Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington under nine presidents and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

January 13, 2009


Daily Howler, July 2008 - Teach for America isn't GM-but it's no minor enterprise either. A lot of money is involved in the enterprise-and a lot of unfortunate "influence." Sam Dillon profiled TFA founder Wendy Kopp in the New York Times. He offered this overview of the program:

||||| Ms. Kopp has built her group into a powerhouse, with an annual budget of $120 million, a national staff of 835, and partnerships with Goldman Sachs, Google and other blue-chip names. This spring, she presided over its most successful campus recruiting campaign, and made Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. |||||

Kopp herself received a salary of $250,736 in 2005, the last year for which such data are available-though this fact is almost never mentioned in profiles or interviews. Six other TFA executives received salaries ranging from $125,000 to $202,000 in 2006.

For that $120 million annual outlay, Kopp and her staff of more than 800 recruited roughly 3700 teachers this past year-teachers whose salaries are paid by the school systems which employ them. In short, Teach for America spends roughly $32,000 per teacher just to send its young hires to their schools. . .

But does this program actually work? Therein lies the rub. Media outlets tend to avoid this question. . . Most specifically, they tend to avoid discussing the academic studies of TFA-studies which show that the program is something less than the miracle cure Kopp so plainly suggests. .

[A] 2004 study was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research. . . . In reading, TFA teachers did no better than other teachers in the schools studied. In math, TFA teachers performed somewhat better than other teachers. . . Students taught by TFA teachers progressed from the 14th percentile nationally to the 17th percentile in the school year studied; among other teachers, students began and ended at the 15th percentile. That gain is not nothing, but it's dwarfed by the tales of "incredible success.". .

Other studies had shown results that were even less favorable to Teach for America. . . Stanford researchers found this, in 2005: "Controlling for teacher experience, degrees, and student characteristics, uncertified TFA recruits are less effective than certified teachers, and perform about as well as other uncertified teachers." A 2002 study by Arizona State researchers was even less flattering. Its title: "The Effectiveness of "Teach for America" and Other Under-certified Teachers on Student Academic Achievement: A Case of Harmful Public Policy"

In 2000, Wendy Kopp went to visit GOP presidential candidate George Bush. Afterward she said, "Everyone came out of that room glowing, He really understood education and cared about what we did. He sounds like us, one of our teachers told me."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If one of those teachers actually said that Bush "sounds just like one of us", then he/she just inadvertently gave the game away on what the state of American teacherdom is in general...

January 13, 2009 2:38 PM  

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