Mar 2, 2011

Veteran Teachers Need Not Apply: Henderson Recruits TFA Alums Despite Budget Deficit

By Candi Peterson

Kaya Henderson, Interim Chancellor of DC Public Schools recently delivered remarks at the Teach for America (TFA) 20th Anniversary Summit. Hosted by Teach for America founder and CEO, the event drew what was referred to as an "all-star lineup of education, government, and social justice leaders," including TFA alum, Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of DC Public Schools.

During the event, Interim Chancellor Henderson spoke about the true power of the TFA movement, the rise to high level administrative positions by many TFA'ers and forecast that maybe one day a TFA'er would land in the White House. Henderson encouraged TFA'ers to dust off their resumes if they want a chance to make history by coming to work for DC Public Schools.
It is interesting to note, that despite a lingering recession, budget crises and widespread teacher hiring slowdown, TFA teachers are being hired at a steady pace. The growth is often times coming at the expense of veteran teachers who are losing their jobs- in some cases to make room for TFA teachers who typically are hired at much lower salary levels. Remember the 266 mostly veteran teachers who were laid off in 2009 subsequent to the hiring of hundreds of TFA'ers? A recent study from the Education and the Public Interest Center report titled: "Teach for America: A Review of the Evidence" found that the learning curve and turnover rate of TFA teachers does harm to vulnerable students who are in need of highly trained and highly skilled teachers.
A You Tube video of Kaya Henderson speaking during TFA's 20th Anniversary Celebration has been widely circulated on the Internet and is posted below. I don't know about you, but it appears to me as though Henderson is still carrying Rhee's 'Teach for America' torch and is completely oblivious to the budget crises that we are facing in the District of Columbia. Please watch the video and let us know what you think about Henderson's remarks.We're listening.

© Candi Peterson 2013


Anonymous said...

Isn't the number of TFAers tiny? What percentage of all 4000+ DCPS teachers are from TFA? Is it one percent?

Are we possibly magnifying the impact of these people?

Anonymous said...

So what is the union planning to do, we're starved of union news. What happened with the teacher summit with Gray, what's going on with the budget, what about the appeal? What's going on Candi - for real!

Frank said...

Well I got bared from all DCPS schools. For sending a message to Kaya on Facebook .But she stated in a interview on Fox 5 that she can be reached on FB but after I sent her a message on FEB 22,2011 . I received a Bar Notice form her personally on FEB 25,2011 but when you watch the video you will here her say THIS IS MY TOWN MY CITY COME WORK FOR ME!!!! Well Mayor Gray we NOW NO WHO RUNS THIS DISTRICT KAYA KAYA. HOPEFULLY NOT

Lindsey said...

What I don't understand is how this new mayor actually believes that Ms. Henderson is the most qualified person for the job of Chancellor of DCPS.

With all of the torture that employees have suffered under the Rhee/Henderson regime and to add insult to injury-the announcement in this video that this is her town and TFA'ers should come work for her....... I mean, is this farce really happening??!!

Flo said...

There is no more convincing statement or comment made than that video which says why we must stop Kaya Henderson. Stopping Michelle Rhee was not enough. Rhee followers are as much if not more dangerous. I did not hear her say come because you are qualified and committed... I heard come because you are TFA.

We have enough teachers in DCPS. What is going to happen to our homes, families and children while this is going on? Are we the next 266 or soon to be labeled bad teachers? Who is the TFA woman in the white house? Could it be Rhee-our Sarah Palin of Education? Barak Obama has got to get out first but that is not going to be hard. He is stupidly supporting Rhee style education reform while undercutting unions--his major contributors.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted by the thought of all that I have done for kids as a teacher being flushed down the toilet by people who do not care enough about education in the first place to get education degrees, commit to the field, and show respect for the profession. Kaya is a fraud and we must raise hell at the Mayor's level for even considering her for Chancellor. Vincent Gray has lied badly and we should give him no peace! Lets fight this nonsense because she is a threat to our schools, families and jobs. NO JOBS NO PEACE

Anonymous said...

That's exactly why she needs to go. She should be recruiting highly qualified educators. She sounds like a cult leader.

Nikki said...

Anonymous on March 3 at 3:01

WTU members are not starved of union news. If you read the monthly newsletter, and the emails and blog entries and news you can use sent out by the new WTU you would know what's happening. Sounds like you aren't a union member?

Anonymous said...

What are everyone's thoughts on "Last In, First Out" hiring/firing rules? I'm not sure about DC, but I know that's the rule in NYC public schools.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

When I started teaching in 1964, all I had was a college degree. Although I applied to suburban schools, none would even interview me when they found out I hadn't taken the required courses or done my student teaching. However, I soon discovered that I could easily obtain a job in the "inner-city." When I showed up for my "interview" in Cleveland, the personnel clerk whipped out a map of the district and asked, "Where do you want to go?" There were no questions; few qualifications.

To me, the placement of minimally qualified and experienced teachers in urban schools in a national scandal. It still happens today.

Are Teach For America candidates more qualified than other candidates? Would they be hired by suburban school districts? If the answer is No, I hope DC teachers and citizens will push for answers. Enlist the help of civil rights leaders because the practice of placing the least experienced teachers in urban schools is a civil rights concern.

Let's do all we can to stop the unconscionable practice of placing the least qualified and experienced teachers in urban schools.

SE Teacher said...

Wow. I just want to point out that most of the people Henderson was speaking to are certified teachers with masters degrees in education who have been teaching for at least two years. They are the people who go through TFA and want to stay in the classroom. They are (at least after completing their commitment with TFA) every bit as qualified as any other teacher in (or applicant to) DCPS. Many have taught for more than a decade. Why should we not want them to apply to work here?

I thought unions were supposed to be about solidarity and unity, not creating artificial differences among teachers. Funny that the WTU doesn't mind collecting dues from the 400+ TFA corps members and alums who still teach in DCPS.

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

If these TFA candidates are fully qualified with master's degrees and experience than I am obviously not talking about them.

Dump Henderson Now said...

Heard the union came put with the Kellogg report and kaya Henderson burning ala Nathan Saunders. Damn it is good. What is wrong with Vincent Gray? Henderson is under qualified. That is an under statement.

Anonymous said...

The issue is simple. Ms. Henderson and her ilk have decided that while students need to be allowed to learn in all sorts of different styles, teachers can only teach in one style. I have given up. I have been threatened with my job by the administration, told that because I didn't use the TFA model of student centered learning that I was a lousy teacher not getting through to my kids. You know what? I need the job, so I will do as they tell me and hope for the best.

efavorite said...

SE teacher -- where did you get your information about the composition of the crowd at Henderson's speech. My understanding was that it was a group of TFA vets celebrating the 20th anniversary of TFA. I've heard nothing about what the attendees are doing now.

Please provide a link to the source of your info.


Sheila H. Gill said...

Wake up everybody, no more sleeping in bed. Kaya’s video speaks volumes. Let’s be clear, this is a sad day in DCPS. It is obvious that Kaya has insulted certified career educators, parents, students and concerned DCPS citizens. Kaya & Rhee’s agenda continues to exist in DCPS. “Over hiring Teach for America (TFA) members and firing certified educators.” Who really cares about our DCPS students? Kaya cares about her TFA closest friends employment opportunities in DCPS. Frankly, Mayor Gray campaigned on Integrity, Character and Leadership. However, Mayor Gray has the final say of the appointed Chancellor of DCPS. It is my hope that Mayor Gray drops the term, “Chancellor” and recruits a qualified, certified, experienced Superintendent. Our DCPS students, parents, teachers and DC citizens deserve a Superintendent. Flashback December 15, 2009- Kaya Henderson told the Examiner newspaper: “People keep asking me how I’m different from Michellle Rhee. I’m different than her because she’s a petite Asian woman and I’m a big black girl." Another essential question needs to be addressed: What qualifications does Kaya posses in meeting Mayor Gray’s core educational values? Certainly, our DCPS students need a Superintendent instead of an underqualified TFA alumni as the head of DCPS. Defend Public Education!! Enough is Enough!

DCPS parent said...

Anonymous 2:36 am,
I am not sure of the number of TFA recruits in DCPS but it has to be more than 1% since 1% of 4000 is 40 teachers. Maybe it is 10% I am not sure but since there is a constant turnover of TFA in DCPS you can't just look at the current numbers to understand the impact.

At my son's school there are TFA teachers who are nice, dedicated and caring. I don't want to seem like I am bashing TFA teachers since most of the TFA teachers who I know at his school seem very committed. That being said it is important to understand that experience does matter and while one of my son's TFA teachers was good (especially when you looked at things like her enthusiasm and caring attitude) she was not great. No fault of her own since she had only been a teacher for a couple of years.

I don't get why DCPS is funneling money to TFA which charges a fee per teacher recruited when statistics show that for the most part they don't stay? TFA is based on a two year commitment-- this makes no sense and is indefensible hiring strategy.

Dorsey said...

Kaya has Mayor Gray snowed like Rhee had Fenty . I was a Fenty supporter but I'm seeing no change. HENDERSON IS A FRAUD. Soon Kaya will be exposed. I'm hearing that Fox 5 will be doing an interview with Mr. Hill, the RIF'd teacher, Henderson barred from the school system for sending her a message on face book. Henderson said people could communication with her on face book if they had any problems. Henderson has lost her mind and is now breaking the Right to Work Act by denying Mr. Hill's right to interview for perspective jobs. It's time for Kaya Henderson to be barred from DCPS. It's time to go to the hill. Dust off your protest signs, parents, teachers, students - it's time to take democracy back.

Mayor Gray, the residents of the District put you in now Make A better decision than your predecessor. Hire someone that's qualified or suffer the political consequences that are due to come your way.

Dorsey said...

Kaya has Gray snowed like Rhee had Fenty . I was a Fenty supporter but I'm seeing no change. Kaya Henderson is a Fraud. Soon Kaya will be exposed. I'm hearing that Fox 5 is doing an interview with Mr. Hill, the RIF'd teacher Henderson barred from DCPS for sending her a message on Face Book about job interviews. Henderson asked teachers to contact her on FB if they had any problems. Henderson is breaking the the law by violating the Right to Work Act by barring Mr. Hill for no reason. It's time for Henderson to be barred from DCPS. DCPS parents, community & students it's time to dust off your protest signs and let's hit the ground running. If Gray supports her, there will be fallout for his political career.

Mayor Gray, the residents of the District put you in now Make A better decision than your predecessor. Hire someone who is qualified. Conduct a national search and stop taking the lazy way out.

Anonymous said...

Is this woman cracy, stupid, or out of her mind? Michell Rhee and Fenty fired teachers in 2009 discriminately based on their age, race, and for speaking up to the principals/administrators for continously cheating on student's tests, lied and continued to lied about students test scores; and this Kaya kaya have the gut to continue to promote fake ideas. What is happening in Washington DC is not students improvement of students achievement as claimed by Michell Rhee and Kaya Henderson. It is nothing but experimentation on DC Students because students achieved without any fake ideas. We need the Union to speak up equivocally that we will not tolerate this nonsense from Kaya Henderson. Kaya should stop promoting fake ideas on DCPS Students and residents. Enough of the Bullsh.

Anonymous said...

I will guess total of active TFAs is 200-300, OR 5-7 percent or so. Why all the fuss?

While TFA charges a fee, do not think that hiring others costs nothing. There is a staff in CO, with employees, overhead, and contractors. TFA hires impose less workload on this group.

Enough is enough is lame is lame.

For those expecting Vincent Gray to change his views on education and DCPS, political observers say that is unlikely. He is as consistent as, say, Marion Barry.

Anonymous said...

efavorite, if you look on youtube or vimeo for videos of other talks from the TFA summit, there is one of Wendy Kopp's address where she talks about some of the makeup of the audience.

Classic said...

It is clear that people are not looking at the big picture. I am not hating on TFA teachers, however they are not as qualified as the veteran teachers in our schools. They are treated differently and their word is golden to principals. I have seen this first hand in our schools. These are teachers that are recruited into our schools. I was on the personnel committee at my school and 90% of all applicants were TFA and 100% of those applicants were hired. At my school ALL of the new teachers are TFA. So of course those of us that are not TFA feel discriminated against. I am not making a personal judgment against those people. I am not mad that these people for deciding to go into a program that helps them pay off student loans. What I am upset with is that they are considered the saviors of our children totally disregarding the soliders that have been on the front lines for many years.

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough, Kevin Huffman, Michelle Rhee's ex husband, father of her two daughters, and TFAer was just named as the Education Coordinator in Tennessee. Seems like TFA is the way to go if you want to get a power position in the field of Education.

Anonymous said...

One of the things that principals love about TFA teachers is that they have been taught to focus on nothing but DCCAS prep. The TFAers at my school make all of their homework constructed response, and treat it like the DCCAS, to the point where they will not allow another sheet of paper, because the student won't have it on the test.

Given that, you can see that principals that want test prep to the exception of everything else would love TFA folks who have been trained that way.

Anonymous said...

March 5 at 3:15 pm commenter:

Without using the term tenure and seniority, your view seems to be that if a teacher has been a "soldier" for years, she/he deserves to stay (no matter what? perhaps??). It is an understandable view, but not ncessarily the best for the students. What if a top-performing student with 8 years of experience could be hired from a Title I school in Phila, to replace a weak "soldier?"

We need to be careful that we don't not short change our kids, at least as much as we need to follow procedures and fairness in evaluating and developing (or terminating) the teachers we have.

After reading Page 1 of the Washington Post this morning, I am beginning to wonder how bad the rot in our newly elected government is--up to and including the Mayor's office. We have already seen what the new Council Chair thinks of the dupes like me who pay taxes, prays for good schools, and votes.

May the Lord help us get through this night of mismanagement at all levels of DC government.

Anonymous said...

Interesting Anonymous at March 6, 2011 4:33 PM, you have no problem of TFA hiring their friends at all levels; in the classroom, at central office, at OSSE, and hey "on the way to the white house"!!!

Check out your hypocrisy and don't tell me they're all qualified as some of them in the classroom have had only "5 weeks" training, and are placed in the toughest schools - and you're okay with that.

Seniority shouldn't be the sole factor, but a school with no veterans is a school that will not and cannot survive, even if they have good test scores the first year it is unsustainable if most of the staff don't stay on.

Anonymous said...

According to the WaPo 9:09 pm 03/0611, Ms. Henderson is the new Chancellor of DCPS, so we had better get used to her.

Efavorite said...

"We need to be careful that we don't not short change our kids, at least as much as we need to follow procedures and fairness in evaluating and developing (or terminating) the teachers we have."

I agree completely. That's why we can't support an ongoing turn-over of rookie teachers. everyone knows it takes a few years to hit your stride. What an insult to our needisest kids to have a constant turnover of rookies.

usereason said...

Frank, what did you write to Kaya that upset her?

SE Teacher said...


You are correct -- the speech Henderson made was at the 20th Anniversary TFA Summit. She was speaking to a crowd of 10,000 TFA alums. They also happen to be people with masters degrees and several years of teaching experience.

During a TFA teacher's two year commitment, he or she must attend graduate courses in education to pursue certification. Every TFA region has a partnership school that offers these courses (in DC, TFAers take courses from American U if they are GenEd teachers and George Mason if they are Sped teachers). At the end of the two year commitment, TFA teachers are fully certified. Most elect to take the 2-3 courses beyond certification to get a masters degree (something like 90% choose this option). Certification is not optional for TFA teachers; they must prove to OSSE that they are pursuing certification through graduate study in order to be given provisional licenses.

According to TFA, 63% of their alums are still working in education. Half of that 63% are still K-12 teachers, and a further fifth of them work in schools as counselors, administrators, coaches, literacy specialists, etc. A full report on alumni activity can be found here:

My point is that after completing the TFA commitment, TFA teachers are fully certified and most have masters degrees. They all have (at least) two years teaching experience in a high-poverty urban or rural school. Why shouldn't a school system want to recruit those people?

Barbara said...

Hi Candi,

We all know TFA is a business venture where unlicensed persons are hired cheap and the profits go to corporate. The way it works is similar to a Ponzi scam. New teachers are required or encouraged to open new schools to multiply the business. More profits for corporate.

The marketing regarding TFA's success is fraudulent and an out right contrivance of the facts. I suggest that the WTU go on an all out marketing campaign to publish the truth and the facts.

Did you know that Jay Mathews of the POST is on the TFA Board? I also heard that Maryland is somewhat successful in keeping TFA out of that state.

Anonymous said...

SE teacher at 322 has some tasty food for thought for her colleague in teaching, Efavorite. SE teacher spells out the value of TFAs, and clearly believes they are, on balance, a net positive educating resource.

Mrs. Efavorite wonders about a school with few veterans. Good point, but I don't know if that happens in many schools because TFAs are something like 7 percent of the 4000-person plus teacher total.

Recent Local 6 survey showed at least half of all teachers have 20-25 years of experience. That is laudable in many, but not all, respects. In such large numbers ordinary statistics suggests some have stopped growing and would not measure up well comparatively with others in their cohort.

The point can be made that moving out less, or in the worst case, ineffective teachers for any less experienced teachers (who could arrive from a number of sources, e.g., other systems) would be better for the students. I know this is the kind of management decision that parents zero in on.

What do you think (providing we can shield our eyes from standard AFT beliefs and practices)?

SE Teacher said...


We do not "all know this." What you've written is incorrect.
1.) TFA is not a corporation, it is a non-profit.
2.) New teachers are neither required nor encouraged to open schools.
3.) Most of the schools that TFA alums do open (KIPP is the most famous, but there are of course others) actually don't employ many TFA corps members. They do employ lots of alums -- people who no longer have anything to do with TFA's income.
4.) Baltimore City and Prince George's County employ several hundred TFA corps members. They are, last I checked, both in Maryland.

If you're going to criticize (without source or citation) people of making up facts, it's best to not also be making up facts.

Anonymous said...

Person at 4:21 PM -- Why insist that there is "profit"? This is an IRS-approved nonprofit. "Profits" don't "go to corporate" or anywhere else; any "profit" has to be plowed back into the business.

TFA is not making a "profit" for anyone.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that Kaya has found the time to address the TFAers but has not made the effort to speak to the rest of us. It might be important for the people who are doing the work to know what else is coming down on us!

Linda/RetiredTeacher said...

For many, many years young people without full credentials or experience have been hired for "inner-city" positions. While working in these schools, these new teachers earn their master's degrees, gain experience and often have their student loans "forgiven" by the federal government. I should know as I was one of these recruits in 1966. I still cringe when I think of the mistakes that I made in those early years. After gaining experience in the classrooms of poor kids, these new teachers often go on to "better" jobs in the suburbs.

Placing the least experienced teachers in urban classrooms is still being done today, only now it is called Teach for America.

If a TFA has a master's degree and experience, then Ms. Henderson should consider this person for a position in D.C. Why not? However, if most of the inexperienced, minimally credentialed recruits are sent to the poorest schools in D.C. teachers and parents need to let the public know that this is happening. Bill Turque or Valerie Strauss might find it an interesting topic for their articles and blogs. Is it true that high-achieving Maryland does not employ Teach for America? Why?

Nothing has hurt poor kids more than the unconscionable tradition of placing the least experienced teachers in the most challenging schools. This is a practice that should stop today. Ms. Henderson has pledged to "put children first." Let's see if she will put them before her friends in Teach for America.

H said...

Greetings! This has confirmed what I have said to many of my colleagues about Ms. Henderson. She has got to go. She is just carrying on what Ms Rhee started, so even though Ms Rhee is no longer with DCPS, her policies are still being enforced on DC teachers.

At this point I think it's the Mayor who needs to be pressured to conduct a nationwide search for someone with, not only a PhD. in leadership but also someone knowledgeable in what Education is about, who has taught at different levels or has extensive knowledge of K-12 education. The teachers were behind Gray for mayor but it seems as though he has forgotten that. How can I send an email to the Mayor?

SE Teacher said...

Linda/Retired Teacher:

I agree with you that placing the least experienced teachers in classrooms with the neediest students is a poor practice. It does those children who need help the most a great disservice. On the one hand, I do think TFA's mission is a good one, and I also know that thousands of people have made education their careers -- staying in the poorest neighborhoods -- who otherwise might have gone into finance or law. On the other hand, I believe that in an ideal world TFA wouldn't be able to place teachers because there would be too many high-quality experienced teachers clamoring to work in our poorest neighborhoods.

I just want to reiterate that the people Henderson was speaking to in this video are not new recruits; they are TFA alums. They have taught for at least two years and are fully certified. She should not be criticized for wanting those people. Criticize her for hiring too many newTFA recruits, but not for this.

Also, it is 100% false that Maryland does not hire TFA teachers. Baltimore City and Prince George's County hire several hundred TFA corps members each year.

Five To Go said...

Payback is a witch! If anyone thinks that a five week speed course on educational practices equals a four-five year course of studies on educational theories and best practices in education, then they are a complete fool. All the public has to do is just wait, time will tell if TFA teachers are better than traditional degreed teachers. Kaya Henderson is so full of bunk and totally unqualified for the job, that my tax dollars help to pay. The United States is on its way straight to the bottom, and China will be the best educated nation in the world.

Anonymous said...


Can you verify the DINR, if you quit DCPS after April or don't come back the next school year will DCP fine you $1000? That is what most staff are saying at my school, I don't see how this is legal. Can you clarify just this information about the "penalty" please. As you know many of us are trying to get out of DCPS but we won't have an answer by April.

Anonymous said...

So much for a change in government. The Chancellor search, the hiring of aide's children and the S. Brown situation. Nothing has changed. Can't tell you how disappointed I am in the new regime. Nothing has changed in DCPS except the cuts to 30 schools and Ms Henderson being placed in charge. Arghhhhh!

Sarah said...

Although I've known for a yaer or two that some one named Kaya Henderson was the deputy chancellor, the most I've seen of her was in the DCPS Oversight Hearing yesterday. There were somethings I liked and some I didn't.
The video in this post has shown a whole different side of her and I definitely do not like the message she seemed to be sending that 20 years ago a revolution in teaching started and after a "bloody battle" at DCPS, she is now in a position to advance it. Her statements that TFA Alum are in the DCPS leadership, in the Deputy Mayor's office, in the OSSE-everywhere significant decisions are being made and her call "come and work for me" just came across to me as a statement of triumph that 'we have conquered DCPS and it is ours and yours.'
It is NOT! DCPS is the public school district of the people of this city--not a place for ANY group to swarm in and take over and turn it into the reality of their "dream."
That, to me, is not about helping children to learn; it is about, in essence, telling the public education system and everybody in it before 20 years ago that 'it and they are done and now it's all going to be our way.'
I too am deeply disappointed that Gray did not, especially since he has repeatedly said education is his highest priority, do a broader search. I am becoming more and more convinced that while education may be his highest priority, it is not in the sense of making DCPS the best learning place it can be, but making it into some kind of showplace and "model" for a bunch of ideas with almost no connection to learning.

TFA & DCTF said...

As a 10-year teaching veteran in DC, I'd just like to say that we should all be grateful for the Teach for America & DC Teaching Fellows that teach with us. These people are some of the most committed and passionate educators I've come across during my entire career!

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is that DCPS is in a sad state of affairs. Rhee and Henderson claimed that they wanted to "reform" the educational "system" in DC. The sad fact is that they didn't look at the "system," they only focused on the "teachers." There are many things that people on the outside just aren't aware of. Most people aren't even aware that kids in middle school in DC don't have to pass ANY classes at all. They are passed to the next grade simply based on the number of days that they come to school. Kids are kids. They aren't going to do homework, pass classes, or take standardized tests seriously if they don't HAVE to. If they know that they can come to school, do nothing, and pass, then they will. So kids are passed along until they meet high school where now they "HAVE" to pass classes in order to move to the next grade. To add insult to injury, then you take this system where kids are basically trained that you don't have to do anything in school but show up, and blame the teachers when the kids don't do homework, fail tests, and ignore standardized tests. I submit this. A doctor has a patient who has high blood pressure. He instructs that patient on the disease and how the diet should be modified to prolong life. The patient ignores the doctor, continues to eat salt, and then has a stroke. Is the doctor ineffective? Do we even think to question that? Do I believe that there are ineffective teachers in DC? Of course. There are bad teachers just like there are bad doctors, lawyers, etc. However, if you are going to design an evaluation system based on benchmarks like test scores and tie teachers jobs to it, then your educational system should be designed with benchmarks that children are used to meeting. You can't send messages to kids that classwork, homework, tests, etc don't matter and then expect them to take high stakes tests like the DCCAS seriously.

DCPS Applicant said...

I am a first year teacher looking to move to DC from a high-performing suburban public school in the Midwest. I have been reading these posts to gain a sense of what to expect when I enter the lion's den of ed reform. I feel inclined to join the conversation because I have a history with TFA and sincerely want to know whether my experience will help me or harm me in the job search.

After college I was accepted and trained by TFA. I decided to drop out of the 5-week training program before taking a job because I felt completely unprepared for the classroom and overwhelmed by how much politics were emphasized over teacher development. Was I supposed to teach or preach? The teaching methods they pushed were robotic and didn't seem to make sense for my discipline. I was frustrated, confused, and, frankly, a little scared of what lay ahead.

I returned home to complete a Master's in education where I developed a knowledge of teaching philosophy that, more than anything, helped me make sense of my distaste for the TFA approach. I student taught for and was hired by a highly competitive district and have consistently received exemplary evaluations for my performance in the classroom.

Due to budget cuts and the 'last in, first out' system for hiring and firing, I will lose my job next year, despite my principal's desire to retain me. DCPS advertises its desire to employ smart, energetic young teachers and reward them with merit pay. This is attractive to me because my current employer is tragically unable to do so. While I do not teach for the money, it would be nice to be compensated for getting results.

So here I am, a smart teacher who has a degree, has demonstrated success, and wants to make a difference. Will I make it in DCPS having rejected the TFA approach? It's not that I don't respect people who commit to TFA--I do--but I think it is wiser to enter the urban school system having completed something more substantial than a five-week crash course in lesson design. If we want to change education, we need to get TFA's talent to be a little more patient with their training. We owe at least that much to our students.

Candi Peterson said...

Thanks DCPS applicant. I wish you the best in your job search. Thank you for your honesty about TFA and sharing how you decided to go back and get your advanced degree in education. I think you made a wise choice. It is unfortunate that you can't remain in your current school system.

I encourage you to continue researching once you get here. I don't know how many years you have but you should request a mentor teacher in DCPS if you are just starting out. Stay connected with your colleagues and I'd love to hear how things go for you in the future once you get hired.