Last fall, I was accepted to Teach for America (TFA) in Philadelphia. This autumn, I urge Pittsburgh Public Schools to reject falling in TFA's trap.
TFA is a temporary teacher program. Recent college grads receive five weeks of training and commit to two years in the classroom.
After Philadelphia closed more than 20 schools and laid off one in five veteran educators, it placed a cheaper bunch of more than 100 inexperienced TFA members in lead teaching positions. Art, music, libraries, counselors and even nurses were deemed superfluous, leading to the recent tragic death of a sixth-grade student.
The Philadelphia community is outraged at these assaults and is fighting back. Last spring, students organized the largest walkouts since 1967. Thousands took to the streets to demand support for their teachers and their future.
When I echoed concerns I heard in the community about the role of TFA in harming the district's schools, the organization told me to silence myself. When I refused, and continued to stand in solidarity with the Philadelphia community demanding support for their public schools, TFA kicked me out.
While TFA claims to provide teachers for hard-to-fill subjects, recruits will not be prepared for them. Last fall, the program encouraged me to join a conference call titled “Being a great math or science teacher no matter your major.”
If the Pittsburgh school board signs a contract with Teach for America, it pursues an illusion, not a solution. We must not let TFA do further harm in Pennsylvania. Our students deserve better.
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.