Monday, August 22, 2011

To Teach, or Not to Teach?

"Our kids deserve more, deserve better and I’ve lived here long enough to know that I want and can be part of the change necessary to help them achieve everything they’re capable of.”

- Teach for America Corps Member, Puget Sound ‘11

In living rooms and coffee shops across the Seattle Metro Area 35 highly qualified teaching candidates are constantly checking their email, updating their resumes and practicing their talking points for the most controversial job interviews they may ever face.  They have beat out 15,000 other applicants from Washington State for acceptance to the selective Teach For America program and now they’re applying alongside hundreds of other teachers for positions in Seattle and Federal Way.

Last year, the Seattle and Federal Way committed to accepting TFA teachers into the hiring process for the 2011 school year. With incredible support from groups like the Seattle Foundation (see video below) the community rallied to bring the new Corps members to the Puget Sound.

Over more than 20 years, school districts have partnered with Teach For America, because they offer an additional pipeline of diverse, effective teachers and leaders for their communities. Of the 35 Seattle Corps members, 40% are people of color, 30% received Federal Pell Grants to attend college and 55% are from or attended school in Washington State.

In an independent survey by Policy Studies Associates of principals who employed Teach For
America corps members, 94% report that the corps members made a positive impact on their
schools.  The most recent study from Tennessee, which looked at 42 different teacher preparation programs, found that, Teach For America corps members outperformed the average new teacher across all subject areas and grade levels. Teach For America was the top new teacher preparation program in the state.

Yet, this Seattle Corps faces some of the strongest opposition and misinformation campaigns the organization has ever seen.  Blogs such as Save Seattle Schools, Walking to School, and Seattle Education are preparing to tar and feather every school board member, superintendent, administrator, principal, teacher, UW graduate or student who ever breathed a word of support for TFA.

In the next few weeks I hope to bring you the stories of people who participated in the discussion about bringing Teach For America to the Puget Sound and give a human voice to the other side of the issue.  

Meanwhile, please take a few seconds to this online poll.


  1. Could you provide the citation for the research study from Tennessee? I'm interested in reading it and in seeing which traditional teacher education programs they analyzed, as well as how they analyzed teacher preparedness. Thanks!

  2. The full study is available at

    This study received coverage in The [Memphis] Commercial Appeal at

  3. How did the TFA corps members perform relative to experienced certificated teachers?

    If the out-performance of TFA corps members provides ample support for choosing them over other novice teachers, doesn't the out-performance of experienced teachers also provide ample support for favoring them over TFA corps members?

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. Don't forget!


  6. Wow! You remove an innocuous comment because you don't want to support your slander?

    Is that the kind of tone you want to set for a discussion?

  7. So, let me get this straight. You weep for the 35 anxious TfA folks who want to teach for a couple of years (fact: more than 3/4 of TfA teachers leave teaching after 3 years).

    You have nothing to say about the 1000's of experienced teachers who got laid off this year, about the State of Washington cutting education budgets again?

    It's all about the 35 from your pet organization?????

  8. Just read the title of your blog!

    And how, exactly, is refocusing people's attention on 35 TfA recruits

    "refocusing on the kids"?