Friday, January 13, 2012

'Teach for America' overstates its classroom success | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC - News, Sports, Entertainment

'Teach for America' overstates its classroom success | The Post and Courier, Charleston SC - News, Sports, Entertainment:


'Teach for America' overstates its classroom success

BY PAUL THOMAS
Friday, January 13, 2012



A recent article in The Post and Courier announced "Struggling schools to get strong teachers" (Diette Courrégé, Dec. 13, 2011). The article, as well as commentaries and a subsequent article, suggests that Charleston's high-poverty schools struggle to attract and maintain high-quality teachers and that Teach for America (TFA) recruits are appropriate solutions to that problem.

South Carolina and Charleston, however, should heed the considerable evidence that challenges that claim.

First, we must acknowledge that teacher recruitment and retention are historical problems faced across S.C. and the U.S. in high-poverty schools, but we cannot gloss over that the high-quality teachers needed are certified teachers with many years of classroom experience -- characteristics research shows contribute strongly to student learning.

One of the hidden cultures of schools is that veteran and high-quality teachers often are "rewarded" with top students and elite courses such as Advanced Placement.

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