April 5, 2010

"Teach For America Chews Up, Spits Out Another Ethnic-Studies Major"

An interesting perspective:
NEW YORK—Teach For America, a national program that recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income rural and urban communities, has devoured another ethnic-studies major, 24-year-old Andy Cuellen reported Tuesday.

"Look, the world is a miserable place," said Cuellen, a Dartmouth graduate who quit the TFA program Monday morning. ... Just one of the 12,000 young people TFA has burned through since 1990, Cuellen was given five weeks of training the summer before he took over a classroom at P.S. 83 in the South Bronx last September.

"I walked into that school actually thinking I could make a difference," said Cuellen, who taught an overflowing class of disadvantaged 8-year-olds. "It was trial by fire. But after five months spent in a stuffy, dark room where the chalkboard fell off the wall every two days, corralling screaming kids into broken desks, I'm burnt to a crisp."

Cuellen said his TFA experience "taught him a lot about hopelessness." ... "And there's not a goddamned thing you or anyone can do about it. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something. Or trying to get you to teach kids math."

According to Dartmouth literature, as a member of the ethnic-studies department, Cuellen learned "to empower students of color to move beyond being objects of study toward being subjects of their own social realities, with voices of their own."

Teach For America executive director Theo Anderson called ethnic-studies departments "a prime source of fodder."

"Oh, I'd say we burn through a hundred or so ethnic-studies majors each year," said Anderson, pointing to a series of charts showing the college-major breakdown of TFA corps members. "They tend to last a little longer than women's studies majors and art-therapy students, but Cuellen got mashed to a pulp pretty quickly. It usually takes ethnic-studies majors another year to realize that they're wasting their precious youth on a Sisyphean endeavor."

Continued Anderson: "Of course, we don't worry about it too much. Every year, there's a fresh crop to throw in the grinder. As we speak, scores of apple-cheeked students are hearing about TFA for the first time."

According to Anderson, a small portion of these students will lose interest after hearing horror stories from program alumni.

"But the majority of them will march on like cattle to the slaughter, thinking that pure determination and hope can change young lives," Anderson said. "I can hear their footsteps now, marching toward our offices like lemmings to a cliff. And believe me, we're ready for 'em."

Although Cuellen quit the program early, his mother said he was with TFA long enough for it "to crack open his bones and suck out the marrow inside."

"Andy is a ghost," Beverly Cuellen said. "Those [TFA] people beat the idealism out of him, then they stomped on him while he lay there gasping for air."

TFA regional coordinator Sandra Richman said it is common to blame the TFA employees for the organization's high plow-through rate.

"Should I have said something to wake those kids up sooner?" Richman said, crushing out her seventh cigarette. "Probably. But listen, no one can tell you that you can't make a difference. It's something you have to figure out for yourself."

From the February 16, 2005 issue of The Onion.

33 comments:

Average Joe said...

That's a pretty good piece from The Onion. It's a pity that it has gotten so leftwing over the last couple of years.

RandyB said...

Ok, Steve, you got me.

But you should move the Onion warning up a little higher.

fdfdfewrertert said...

You know what's scary? It doesn't real like an ONION piece at all. It sounds all too real.

Progressive suckers never learn. They are like Germans during WWII or Chinese during the Korean War. Never mind how many got duped by Hitler and Mao and got killed pointlessly on the battlefield. As long as totalitarians ran the media and education, there was always a new batch of suckers to pool together for the slaughter.

No matter how many times we fail, new generation of kids will be taught by the same PC retards. They too will run into the pointless battlefield. Kids may not be blank-slate in terms of intelligence but they are in terms of ideology. No matter how smart or dumb, most of them will think and feel as they are taught by PC retards.

Anonymous said...

It was so honest it had to be The Onion. They're the only ones who can get away with saying it.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap, I thought this was real the first time I read it. So much for the ability to make inferences.

Anonymous said...

I didn't catch on until paragraph six. OK, seven.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Seriously, it will be nice when the student loan-debt bubble bursts and all those "ethnic studies" sinecures evaporate into thin air.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

Good grief, Steve.

You nearly gave me a heart attack. I thought the New York Times had just had a religious conversion and had started telling the truth, there for a minute. I nearly died from the shock.

mnuez said...

The Onion isn't leftwing and never was. The Onion is honest. Do they get EVERYTHING right? Of course not but of all the pundits out there I find myself agreeing with The Onion more than any of the others. The Onion cuts through both Right and Left equally and almost always produces a superior product to any of the one-dimensional Conservative or Liberal crap.

Here's another Onion Awesome from the past that seems to have received less positive attention than it deserves.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/maya-angelou-honored-for-courage-blackness,1643/

ABP said...

I knew from the beginning this story was too true to be a straight news story.

Relatedly, my cousin joined TFA (or something like it) to teach science in the Bronx after graduating from Columbia. She washed up in less than a year and moved to an organic commune in Oregon. She is half Mexican but the SWPL factor is high in the part of my family that we have in common.

Truth said...

"Ok, Steve, you got me."

"Holy crap, I thought this was real the first time I read it."

"I didn't catch on until paragraph six. OK, seven."


Now that's REALLY scary.

Black kids in the Bronx aren't the only ones who didn't learn anything useful in school. Keep making those banksters rich folks.

teacher.paris said...

http://niviusvir.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/41-people-shot-in-chicago-my-god/



Chicago needs more experienced community organizers.

John Craig said...

The Onion is funny precisely because what they say is true, whether that's about people's sexuality, their self-delusions, or their loser position in life.

I don't see the left wing aspect of the Onion either, they're far too realistic.

Anonymous said...

OT:

Images of a wonderful "rainbow nation." Seems black and red are the main colors though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SMppUdwlOwQ

fdfrevvswsf said...

"The Onion isn't leftwing and never was."

The jokesters of Onion are mostly neocon Jews.

But, the music/movie criticism section is mostly liberal Jewish. Scott Tobias, their long time movie critic is on facebook and is a total pro-gay marriage pro-amnesty liberal Jew.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was too late for an April Fool's.

mnuez said...

Steve, I've been a loyal reader for many years now, could you do me one favor and organize an isteve get-together where I can finally meet the paranoid blinking turreting judeo-obsessive sh**heads and knock their teeth out? I mean seriously, is that too much to ask?

Average Joe said...

The Onion isn't leftwing and never was

You obviously have not been reading it lately. It is very pro-Obama and hostile to conservatives.

More Anon said...

"Seriously, it will be nice when the student loan-debt bubble bursts and all those "ethnic studies" sinecures evaporate into thin air."

Where do ethnic studies majors go? Diversity offices? Politics?

How many of them are AA-types, and how many come from wealthy backgrounds in the first place?

l said...

Here's a meta concept -- the NYT spoofs The Onion:

NEW YORK—Teach For America, a national program that recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income rural and urban communities, has another success story in ethnic-studies major 24-year-old Andy Cuellen.

"Look, the world is a wonderful place," said Cuellen, a Dartmouth graduate who is moving on from the TFA program as of Monday morning. ... Just one of the 12,000 young people TFA has given a start in the profession since 1990, Cuellen was given five weeks of training the summer before he took over a classroom at P.S. 83 in the South Bronx last September.

"I walked into that school actually thinking I couldn't make much of a difference," said Cuellen, who taught an overflowing class of disadvantaged 8-year-olds. "It was trial by fire. But after five months spent [there], I feel profoundly rewarded."

Cullen said he loved his time with the TFA program, but "with a heavy heart" he has accepted a teaching position in a Long Island school. Cullen hopes to instill in the children of the overwhelmingly affluent and white community a dedication to serving others.

Prime said...

"The jokesters of Onion are mostly neocon Jews."

why are all the funniest people Jews or named Zach Galifinakis?

Mr. Anon said...

I didn't catch on till paragraph five:

"According to Dartmouth literature, as a member of the ethnic-studies department, Cuellen learned "to empower students of color to move beyond being objects of study toward being subjects of their own social realities, with voices of their own.""

The arch irony of that sentence tipped me off.

mnuez: I enjoyed the Onion piece about Maya Angelou. I will never forgive Bill Clinton for many things - helping to make Maya Angelou a celebrity is one of them. The first time I saw her ugly visage I thought: Did Terry Thomas get a sex-change operation and is he now passing himself off as a black woman?

Seamus said...

I wasn't until I read the seventh paragraph, with expressions like "mashed to a pulp" and "wasting their precious youth on a Sisyphean endeavor" that I guessed this was from The Onion.

Peter A said...

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson "Ha, ha! It's funny cuz it's true!"

Anonymous said...

The Onion's latest gem: http://www.theonion.com/articles/increasing-number-of-parents-opting-to-have-childr,17159/

Svigor said...

I didn't catch on until paragraph six. OK, seven.

It smelled funny right from the start, but yeah paragraph six is the warning shot and seven is the clincher, lol.

kudzu bob said...

Now that's REALLY scary.

No, Twoof, what’s frightening is not only the way that you flaunt your all-encompassing ignorance about the simplest matters (such as what the term “crime rate” means) with the same clueless alacrity that so many grossly overweight women have to parade around in public in skimpy polyester halter tops; but also how you somehow manage remain so doggedly convinced of your own superiority that whenever someone on this blog makes a humorously self-deprecating comment, you see it as a sign of weakness and go on the attack.

Anonymous said...

Kudzu Bob, that was the best paragraph I've read in many weeks.

But I'd better get out of here or Mnuez is gonna beat me up.

Rebelyell said...

It may have been a humor article, but it's true. As the editor of a very small weekly newspaper 20 years ago, I made a point of befriending some Teacher Corps teachers in the Mississippi Delta. The Southern, relatively conservative corps members did just fine. The ones who thought they were going to save the world couldn't hack it.

One guy, from Lousiana, did just fine. His roommate, from a top Northern school, threw up every morning before going to school and quit after the first year. From what I've been able to gather, that's the story of the Teacher Corps throughout the South.

Truth said...

"No, Twoof, what’s frightening is not only the way that you flaunt your all-encompassing ignorance about the simplest matters (such as what the term “crime rate” means)"

It has something to do with the RATE of CRIME doesn't it?

So I guess you have inferred that people here were not really fooled by this 7th grade hoax, right?

OK denizens of Isteve, what say you?

Phoenixism said...

I hadn't even finished the first paragraph before I thought to myself, "This sure sounds like the Onion" and I was going to comment to that effect.

Not really a source of pride, I think I am on the damned internet too much.

Truth said...

"Not really a source of pride"

Apparently, it should be.

Mark said...

I'm proud to say that I caught on well before the warning.

Chew on that, scuzballs.