|Opening Plenary Session on Saturday, February 12th|
Photo credit: ABCDE
Here's a link to the opening plenary session.
A few things I learned at the summit:
- Change starts with the power and willingness of the young (if you disagree, refer to exhibit A: Egypt in 2011)
- This new focus on “teacher accountability” is misguided and another way for a broken system to remain in power; we need new and effective leadership, not rating systems based on test scores
- Stop ridiculing teacher unions: they’re doing their job to protect all teachers no matter what, and they’re damn good at it. Learn from them if you want to beat them.
- Placing blame for poor student achievement solely on lack of parental involvement is wrong; when parents actually want to get involved, most schools don’t have systems in place for positive and effective involvement within the school.
- The head of the IRS is a former TFA corps member and that’s why the FAFSA is now extremely easy to fill out. Small world.
- John Legend is a TFA Board Member, WTF?
I think it’s sad TFA gets a lot of criticism for it’s “two years and out” model. Yes, some criticisms are legitimate, for example: two years isn’t nearly enough time for teachers to hone their crafts. But, at the end of the day, education should be about recruiting top tier, hard-working talent. Why is it that all you need to teach is a certification? How come GPA, college and extra-curricular activities in college really don’t matter? How come public schools don’t set up shop at career fairs on college campuses to actively recruit talent?
In high school, I remember discussing careers with my fellow AP/honors class peers. We were all highly motivated, straight-A students and for us, it was "common knowledge" that we, the “A” students would work corporate jobs or become doctors, the “B” students would work in politics and the “C” students would become teachers. The statement sounds elitist, but could you blame us? This is the reality today. In nations with the highest student achievement, the top third of graduates enter into some field of education. This needs to change, and I don’t see any other programs besides TFA doing anything about it.
I want to end this post by talking about a comment that stuck out to me this weekend. On Saturday, I attended a small panel session regarding the progress of Teach for All, a global partnership amongst countries implementing the TFA model. The CEO of Teach First (Britain’s version of TFA) was talking about the hurdles and criticisms he faced when attempting to get the program off the ground. Critics of the program thought they would never be able to recruit top tier college graduates to teach after college. The critics said “volunteerism” and “being a do-gooder” were American-like ideals that would not work elsewhere. Teach First is now one of the largest recruiters at Cambridge and Oxford.
The belief that "the best of the best" simply aren't interested in helping others is a lie spread all over the world.