July 14, 2010

All we have to do ...

We're constantly told that to make up for any minor inconveniences caused by letting in millions of uneducated illegal aliens, "all we have to do is fix the public schools." And this usually leads to some vague gesticulating in the direction of the Teach for America program.

Now, the Teach for America program is actually quite interesting, but not in an all we have to do sort of way. Here it's mission:
How are we helping to solve educational inequity? 
Teach For America provides a critical source of well-trained teachers who are helping break the cycle of educational inequity. These teachers, called corps members, commit to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the country, going above and beyond traditional expectations to help their students to achieve at high levels.

Michael Winerip writes in the NYT:
HOUSTON — Alneada Biggers, Harvard class of 2010, was amazed this past year when she discovered that getting into the nation’s top law schools and grad programs could be easier than being accepted for a starting teaching job with Teach for America. Ms. Biggers says that of 15 to 20 Harvard friends who applied to Teach for America, only three or four got in. ...

Evidently, all we have to do is to fire all the schoolteachers and replace them with the best Harvard graduates -- but not the run-of-the-mill Harvard grads. Just the best Harvard graduates.
Will Cullen, Villanova ’10, had a friend who was rejected and instead will be a Fulbright scholar. Julianne Carlson, a new graduate of Yale — where a record 18 percent of seniors applied to Teach for America — says she knows a half dozen “amazing” classmates who were rejected, although the number is probably higher. “People are reluctant to tell you because of the stigma of not getting in,” Ms. Carlson said. ...

Mr. Goldberg, Mr. Rosen, Ms. Carlson, Mr. Cullen and Ms. Biggers count themselves lucky to be among the 4,500 selected by the nonprofit to work at high-poverty public schools from a record 46,359 applicants (up 32 percent over 2009). There’s little doubt the numbers are fueled by a bad economy, which has limited job options even for graduates from top campuses. In 2007, during the economic boom, 18,172 people applied.

This year, on its 20th anniversary, Teach for America hired more seniors than any other employer at numerous colleges, including Yale, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgetown and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Harvard, 293 seniors, or 18 percent of the class, applied, compared with 100 seniors in 2007. “...

In interviews, two dozen soon-to-be-teachers here in Houston, one of eight national Teach for America centers that provide a five-week crash summer course in classroom practices, mentioned the chance to help poor children and close the achievement gap as major reasons for applying....

But there are other more material attractions. Teach for America has become an elite brand that will help build a résumé, whether or not the person stays in teaching. And in a bad economy, it’s a two-year job guarantee with a good paycheck; members earn a beginning teacher’s salary in the districts where they’re placed. For Mr. Cullen, who will teach at a Dallas middle school, that’s $45,000 — the same he’d make if he’d taken a job offer from a financial public relations firm. [And Dallas is a lot cheaper place to live than Wall Street.]

While Teach for America is highly regarded by undergrads — Mr. Goldberg said Duke recruiting sessions typically attracted 50 students — it gets mixed reviews from education experts.

Research indicates that generally, the more experienced teachers are, the better their students perform, and several studies have criticized Teach for America’s turnover rate.

“I’m always shocked by the hullaboo, given Teach for America’s size” — about 0.2 percent of all teachers — “and its mixed impact,” said Julian Vasquez Heilig, a University of Texas professor. Dr. Heilig and Su Jin Jez of California State University, Sacramento, recently published a critical assessment after reviewing two dozen studies. One study cited indicated that “by the fourth year, 85 percent of T.F.A. teachers had left” New York City schools.
“These people could be superstars, but most leave before they master the teaching craft,” Dr. Heilig said. 

How can you expect them to stay? What's the career path in teaching? There isn't one. The only way to get a promotion is to stop teaching. You can get promoted to teaching teachers ("professional development"), which is a nice gig since you get to do it in child-free environments, but then you aren't actually teaching anymore. I'm sure some of these hyper-ambitious Harvard grads intend to wind up as educational consultants who teach the ex-teachers who teach the teachers, but that's awfully meta in its likely impact.

One thing that you might hope that Teach for America would have accomplished over its 20 years of existence is lead to a revolution in educational software and hardware. You can't expect superstars to stick around teaching forever, but you could expect that they and their experience would go to Silicon Valley and invent great educational software. Instead, we seem to have gone backwards in the focus on education software.

Almost nobody remembers that three decades ago Apple, with its initial Apple II computer, was primarily in the education hardware / software business. In the early 1980s, the Apple II was the schoolroom computer. In contrast, Apple's spectacular revival over the last decade has come about by abandoning education and focusing on already well-educated high income consumers. This is not a coincidence. (This is not to say that the Apple II's vast array of educational software was any good, just to say that that's what lots of smart people like Steve Jobs thought the market was for PCs: education.)

Similarly, what has Google done for mass education? You can see for yourself here.

And yet, educational software that's peddled to schools these days, two decades after the founding of Teach for America, is still mostly crud. There is some stuff that's half decent that tries to mimic a good tutor by giving more problems of the type the student got wrong, but mostly it's a fad driven business marketing junk.

I blame the achievement gap. When the highest priority is closing the achievement gap, and that appears to be virtually impossible to do without inflicting brain trauma on whites and Asians, well, that tends to mean that most of the products created will be bogus.


... Several of the new Teach for America members say it’s too early to know whether they’ll stick with teaching. Ms. Biggers, who was admitted to Harvard and Vanderbilt Law Schools, has deferred attending to teach elementary school in Houston for two years. She then plans to go to law school and, after finishing, says she hopes to do something in education.

To be accepted by Teach for America, applicants survived a lengthy process, with thousands cut at each step. That included an online application; a phone interview; presentation of a lesson plan; a personal interview; a written test; and a monitored group discussion with several other applicants.

A $185 million operating budget, (two-thirds from private donations, the rest from governmental sources) helps finance recruiters at 350 campuses to enlarge the applicant pool.

The 774 new recruits who are training here are housed in Rice University dorms. Many are up past midnight doing lesson plans and by 6:30 a.m. are on a bus to teach summer school to students making up failed classes. It’s a tough lesson for those who’ve come to do battle with the achievement gap.

Lilianna Nguyen, a recent Stanford graduate, dressed formally in high heels, was trying to teach a sixth-grade math class about negative numbers. She’d prepared definitions to be copied down, but the projector was broken.

She’d also created a fun math game [fun according to Ms. Nguyen, recently of Stanford], giving every student an index card with a number. They were supposed to silently line themselves up from lowest negative to highest positive, but one boy kept disrupting the class, blurting out, twirling his pen, complaining he wanted to play a fun game, not a math game.

“Why is there talking?” Ms. Nguyen said. “There should be no talking.”
“Do I have to play?” asked the boy.
“Do you want to pass summer school?” Ms. Nguyen answered.
The boy asked if it was O.K. to push people to get them in the right order.
“This is your third warning,” Ms. Nguyen said. “Do not speak out in my class.”

Schools can't get buy just on Stanford grads. You need to hire a few retired master sergeants with necks wider than their heads who like putting punks in their places. Providing some professional disciplinarians for teachers to send jerks to will do a lot to make the Stanford whiz kids more effective.

85 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are the teachers' intelligence, work ethic, and so on expected to rub off on the pupils? To teach a subject, you only need to thoroughly grasp as much as the course contains -- and we're talking low level courses here, literally kids' stuff! It's hard to see how children could learn more easily just because their teacher is an elite student.

A very unrealistic experiment:
You take two groups of children with the same composition (race, parents' income, etc) and place them in two identical schools. The teachers in one school are all PhD's in their respective fields, those in the other know only enough to understand the actual courses they teach. Then you measure the difference in educational outcome. I suspect the PhD school would not fare better than its rival.

Anonymous said...

We're constantly told that the US is losing its competitive edge against other countries. What to do? Lets send our brightest teachers to babysit low IQ students. That will leave the mediocre teachers free to teach the gifted kids.

agnostic said...

Those Apple learning games were awesome, really appealed to boys' competitive nature. Number Munchers and Word Munchers especially -- fleeing from monsters, trying to eat an answer before a rival got there first, etc. It felt like navigating and hunting.

Even that PAWS typing software had a character racing to a goal line in as short a time as possible. Sounds like a lot more fun for boys than standing in some stupid line.

Of course we know what parents and educators alike have done to competition and individual achievement. The really galling thing about that change is that back when competition was everywhere and it was clear what the ranking was, boys didn't mind -- forming dominance hierarchies is second nature.

A bunch of us would be huddled around the Apple IIe, with only one person controlling the keyboard for Number Munchers, but the others would help out however they could with advice. It was more like co-pilots to the captain or spotters and trainers / sparring partners helping you out in a gym, not like collective farming.

Boys love teamwork, but that requires division of labor, specialization, and hierarchy. The sissified trend of the '90s and after has been to encourage girly group behavior -- where everyone has an equal role because the others will resent and ostracize that one uppity bitch who thinks she's going to make the rest of us look bad by excelling.

Anonymous said...

What a colossal waste of talent.

About the most we can hope for is that several tens of thousands of budding young upper-crust leftists will at least consider the idea of becoming conservatives instead - after what they will have witnessed and experienced and endured with these little monsters.

RandyB said...

I assume TFA will play the same role on a resume that the Peace Corps did in my generation.

Some readers might want to check out Heather MacDonald's essay "Why Johnny's Teacher Can't Teach" from her book The Burden of Bad Ideas:

http://www.city-journal.org/html/8_2_a1.html

Excerpts:
Across the city, young teachers are dumping progressive theories faster than Indonesian currency. For all the unctuous talk of diversity, many progressive tenets are dangerously ill adopted to inner-city classrooms. "They don’t say ‘boo’ about this population," scoffs Samantha, a recent Hunter graduate now teaching in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant section. "My course in multiculturalism had zero to do with the classroom."

A young student at Teachers College named Susan describes incredulously a Korean-run preschool in Queens. To her horror, the school, the Holy Mountain School, violates every progressive tenet:...The result? By the end of preschool the students learn English and are writing words.

Anonymous said...

I hope you're serious about installing master drill sergeants in every "high-risk" classroom -or at least a burly male who is there to scowl and threaten and keep everyone in line.

There's so much debate about class size, funding disparities, achievement disparities, super v. mediocre teachers, etc. Forget advanced learning -the biggest impediment to basic learning is the out-of-control behavior of these kids. Call it goofing off, acting out, acting the fool, whatever. I'm female and when I was a teacher, 80% of my time was devoted to keeping order -and I failed miserably at that.

When kids argue that 6X6=24 and they won't shut up about it and when they throw chalk and masturbate in the classroom and you cannot issue a meaningful consequence for such behaviors, you might as well go home. I don't think elites and academics realize how feral an inner city classroom is.

bigriver1969 said...

When I started teaching in the MS Delta in '97, I was paid 21,000 salary. There were some Teach for America/Americorps grads in neighboring schools. The total package for them on top of the salary included payment for moving expenses, several grand (I can't remember how much) as a down payment on a house, repayment of a portion of their student loans, and a bonus if they completed three years. I, being from the area, didn't qualify for any of that.

Obsidian said...

Steve,
In that you've been harping on this topic of education for years now, I thought it would be a good time to engage you and your readers directly.

First off, is the kid you described a "punk" merely for doing what all boys do? And as for your suggestion of hiring retired masrter sergeants to intimidate the students, I can promise you, if any one of them put a hand on me, they're drawing back a bloody stump - NO ONE has the right to put their hands on me or get in my face. Especially when MY PARENTS are paying that goon's salary.

So, uh, no, "intimidation" wouldn't work on kids like me. Actually engaging me and my questions about the whys and wherefores of things, starting with why we must suffer wholly irrelevant crap by boring to tears teachers who barely know which end is up themselves, is a good starting point.

I also find it fascinating that no one accross two prominent HBD blogs who routinely bemoan the state of American education for all the "NAMs" involved in it, took up the point I made about the music computer known as the SP1200 and the more notable young Black Men who used it. Hmm.

O.

someguy said...

Nowadays much educational "software" will be delivered over the Internet.

There are good educational sites, such as Art of Problem Solving (math) or EPGY, but it is predominantly smart kids with smart parents who will seek out such resources, thus widening the "achievement gap", as found in a recent NYT article, "Computers at Home: Educational Hope vs. Teenage Reality".

SGOTI said...

Exactly right about the former NCOs. Hell, 3/4 of primary and secondary "schooling" these days is just baby sitting with ineffective discipline.

When I was in grade and junior high school, World War II vets were still plentiful in teaching. Man, they brooked NO dissent or crap from the students. One would smack his hands together and it was immediate crickets chirping.

Years later I was walking through a boatyard checking on the progress of a job I had being done. Two boards fell off a boat and landed together.

The hollow, thunking sound immediately transported me back to fifth grade and the large Navy vet (battleship petty officer) clapping his hands together. It took me a second to realize I could actually speak to the yard foreman.

Peter A said...

When my wife taught in a Japanese middle school on the JET program she would tell me stories about the "enforcer" - a phys ed teacher who was tough, sadistic and vicious and kept all the kids in line. If a kid caused a problem in Nakashima Sensei's class he could be sure he would be getting a visit from Toro-San later in the afternoon. This institution seems to be a little known secret to the success of Japanese public schools.

Black Death said...

Sometimes we forget what teaching is really like. The other day I got a reminder. I was at the dentist's office having my teeth cleaned. The dental hygienist liked to talk. She told me that her husband was a high school teacher in a nearby rural community, which I know well and visit often - small town, agricultural, almost entirely white. Here's how it went:

Black Death (BD): "So does he teach at the county high school?"
Dental Hygienist (DH): "No, he teaches at the county "alternative school" - you know, the halfway house between regular school and jail."
BD: "So how does he like it?"
DH: "He hates it. The school is a warehouse - no learning goes on. The students are constantly disruptive, and the principal is an education bureaucrat who just likes to pick up her paycheck and avoid work."
BD: "So why does he stay?"
DH: "He used to work at an inner city school in (nearby medium-sized city). The students were almost all NAM's. Lots of violence, drugs and gangs. No learning took place. So took the next available job he could find."
BD: "What about the student body at his current school?"
DH: "Almost entirely white. Sixty students, four teachers, plus a worthless principal. Most of the students hate the school and disrupt the classes. The few students who really want to learn something never get the chance. The parents are hostile and won't show up for conferences."
BD: "What's the worst thing that's happened to him there?"
DH: "One of the students threatened his life. My husband reported this to the principal, who told him to forget about it. He didn't - he reported it to the police, who hauled the guy off to jail - turned out he had an outstanding warrant. This made extra paperwork for the principal, who got angry at my husband and tried to get him fired. He got the union and the school board involved and she backed off. But she's still mad at him."
BD: "So why doesn't he go somewhere else?"
DH: "There's nowhere else to go. Most of the school districts around here are laying off teachers. He's lucky to have a job, even a rotten one."

....

Steve, sounds like you're right - these schools need a Marine top sergeant more than they need a wet-behind-the ears Harvard grad. Don't think that's too likely though.

Anonymous said...

Young boys need men as teachers.

Jim O said...

Ms. Biggers . . . then plans to go to law school and, after finishing, says she hopes to do something in education.


Yeah, that's the problem with American education. Too few lawyers involved.

Lucinda said...

Steve, I love you to death, but when you are writing about education, you bring out the schoolmarm in me. The word 'its' does not have an apostrophe when it indicates possession. 'It's' (with the apostrophe) is only used as a contraction of "it is". Also, there is a difference between "get by" and "get buy" (?).

I am heading into my sixth decade, and I notice that people younger than myself have not been formally taught these rules of grammar and orthography. When I am faced with the incredible facility younger folk have with technology, I say, "Yeah, but I can spell ubiquitous during a power failure" :)

Toadal said...

Steve said: We're constantly told that to make up for any minor inconveniences caused by letting in millions of uneducated illegal aliens, "all we have to do is fix the public schools."

Others are noticing impoverished and illiterate illegal aliens and their children are becoming a larger and larger segment of our country.

NAACP President Ben Jealous has implied wealthy, more well-educated whites "represents a small and dying demographic."

From the LA Times: Ben Jealous, the association's newly elected president was an outspoken critic of the political protest (Tea Party) movement this week, saying it divides the country and "represents a small and dying demographic."

The Associated Press (AP) editors attempts to erase publication of this quote since yesterday hasn't helped their credibility.

Anonymous said...

One result of Teach for America is to build a large fraction of the elite that has up-close experience with the realities of low-end public schools, and less likely to be bamboozled by "progressivist" nonsense. Simply by observing these schools and applying their intelligence to the obvious problems, the TfA whiz kidz are more likely to come up with a few good teaching ideas than tenured-radical Freirian ed profs. (1)

Granted that "closing the gap" is impossible, etc., etc., you still have to ask the question: could the average NAM-heavy public school, with exactly the same budget as today, do a much better job by using rational management and hiring practices?

There's a strong case that yes, by going back to basics, hiring/firing based on competence rather than years of timeserving and accumulation of nonsensical education degrees, implementation of strong discipline, etc., etc., a NAM-heavy school could at least turn out students who can read and write complete sentences, do arithmetic, show up on time, make eye contact, etc. This is a lot more than the system currently accomplishes and it doesn't require particularly high IQ.

Think Barbados.

And, imagining that all illegal immigration were to stop tomorrow, the US still has millions of NAM youth to deal with, hence an interest in pushing them to a minimal level of basic literacy by age 18.


(1) In the post about the "Building a Better Teacher" article, all the good, concrete ideas about teaching were ignored to make a point about discipline:
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/03/teacher-training-paradox.html

It's worth reading the whole thing to notice a few good ideas that, were they actually taught in ed school, could help a lot of not particularly high-IQ students

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/07/magazine/07Teachers-t.html?em=&pagewanted=all

Anonymous said...

Many of you HBDers may think that the exposure to NAM educational environment will open SWPL eyes to reality, but you would be wrong. Why? Because the incentive to ignore it is so great. A good friend, upon entering TFA, railed against the bureaucracy. "How can so many people fail upward (both students and administrators)?" he would ask. But after 3 years and a promotion, his salary and position have eliminated any doubts. Just like Steve says about minority status, willful stupidity status pays. And really, it is about status competition. All this talk about teachers staying up til midnight designing lesson plans is bullshit. Most TFAers teach elementary school; they're painting half the time, even in 5th grade. The normal crop of teachers is so bad that the half assed labors of TFAers look good in comparison. Remember, the SWPL crowd love nothing more than talking about how incredibly hard they work. That there is 50% of their interests. It's all relative.

TFA does have some good sides, in that the training program is exclusively geared toward teaching fundanmentals, like plans and management strategies. For someoone who wants to be a teacher for life its great practice away from the graduate school zombies. Interesting how the 6 week program is more effective than a year degree.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Steve has read Joshua Kaplowitz's "How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million," which first appeared in The City Journal in 2003, but it's a must read if you want to understand the abject futility of this program. It's got it all. Psychotic, cretinous students trying to kill each other in ghetto classrooms. Racist parents who react badly to their kids being criticized. The useless fat female black principal who sits around writing poison pen letters in teachers' personnel files when they actually try to measure what the kids learned or try to isolate problem students. Accusations of child abuse against teachers trying to stop imminent mayhem.

If nothing else, Teach for America is a chance to put uppity white kids in their place and show them that black and brown social dysfunction is here to stay. And the true purpose of schools isn't to teach -- it is to employ the otherwise unemployable.

http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_1_how_i_joined.html

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a list of TFA grads who are elected officials. Specifically, I'd like to know the party ID of any state/federal officeholders who were TFA.

Big Bill said...

So only a select few are gifted enough to paint Tom Sawyer's fence, huh?

Anonymous said...

In a well disciplined school at least 30% of teachers should be male and a certain percentage of them should have some military or law enforcement background, or perhaps some NCAA varsity playing experience in a sport like Lacrosse,Hockey or Football or something or another.

This is a good way to help allow the timid little lady teacher to do her thing with some sense of confidence that there may be some way to handle the most unruly students.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

I also find it fascinating that no one accross two prominent HBD blogs who routinely bemoan the state of American education for all the "NAMs" involved in it, took up the point I made about the music computer known as the SP1200 and the more notable young Black Men who used it.

LOL.

"The SP-1200 is a legendary drum sampler. Used by many artist from Roni Size to Daft Punk. Hip Hop legends Pete rock and J Dilla were also notible users.

Not everyone can get thier hands on one of these machines. So I thought I better help out..."

Anonymous said...

"Providing some professional disciplinarians for teachers to send jerks to will do a lot to make the Stanford whiz kids more effective."

Nah, the Stanford folks can write the lesson plans and print the index cards. Psychologically the kids need Mr. Master Sergeant to fill the daddy role in their life and keep them in line. Kids are sick of whiny nagging chicks telling them to listen.

Anonymous said...

"So, uh, no, "intimidation" wouldn't work on kids like me."


Intimidation works on everyone.

Remember Jim Crow?

Obsidian said...

AG,
Re: SP1200 - hyup, you got it right. That is a legitmate musical computer, and it is truly creative and innovative how young guys like Pete Rock, J Dilla, the RZA and others have made use of it to create an entirely new artform of music that has taken the world by storm. I think that stands as a most appropriate example of just how smart and creative Black folks can be, among a great many other things. Please note that these guys had little if any formal musical training either.

And going back to the current topic, I actually attended inner city schools and can tell you, that I didn't see "fat Black school principals" or daily fights among students in class, etc. But what I DID see, was reams of WHITE WOMEN TEACHERS who just didn't have a freakin' clue, and it was torturous on the level of being waterboarded to have to suffer through them. And again - this notion of some kind of retired Jarhead manhandling me or my homies? Dead it - they'll wind up in the nurse's office if not worse.

O.

Geoff Matthews said...

My 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Styles (think the stereotypical old lady school teacher) terrified me. I would not, for the life of me, disrupt her class under any circumstances.

My parents were aware of this, but she'd done a good job with my older siblings, so they (wisely) didn't care.

I firmly believe that fear is a must for class-room discipline.

headache said...

From what I can tell this obsession of the government with school is a relic of the communist era. Communists and socialists correctly concluded that he who owns the curriculum owns the political future. Back then their greatest enemy was the church which had figured this out roughly 2000 years before.

But socialists and communists could never really deliver in the classroom, i.e. convert young impressionable brains into party-stomping loyalists en masse. The reason is that they never understood the deeper purpose of education, which was to set men free, not turn them into left-wing-voting robots. Most people generally like to make money, have sex, party, playsports, practice religion, playmusic, have fun and achieve ambitious aims. All that stuff hardly fits into the template of socialists. That's why in the end all the meddling in the schools comes to naught, except that several generations of kids get lousy schooling and end up hating the government even more.

PRCalDude said...

First off, is the kid you described a "punk" merely for doing what all boys do? And as for your suggestion of hiring retired masrter sergeants to intimidate the students, I can promise you, if any one of them put a hand on me, they're drawing back a bloody stump - NO ONE has the right to put their hands on me or get in my face. Especially when MY PARENTS are paying that goon's salary.


You sound unemployable, at least in the productive economy.

This pseudo-masculine bluster reminds me of the stories my old man told me about fratdicks in his fraternity who tried to cross the (recent) Vietnam vets the chapter brought in to keep order. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the vets who were ending up with bloody stumps.

Anonymous said...

"You can't expect superstars to stick around teaching forever, but you could expect that they and their experience would go to Silicon Valley and invent great educational software. Instead, we seem to have gone backwards in the focus on education software."

Nah, because TFA'ers are almost exclusively non-technical types who end up going to law school rather than into high tech.

stari_momak said...

This institution seems to be a little known secret to the success of Japanese public schools.

The other being that Japanese schools have 99% Japanese pupils.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

Since the vast majority of these "Ivy League" attendees are pc-indoctrinated anti-(White)racists,
I say, TFA is an awesome program.

Let's expand it!

Let's let the invader-spawn and the Hostile Elite eat each other, while we quietly retake our country.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

""intimidation" wouldn't work on kids like me."

No, but expulsion sure would. Not that it likely would make YOU shape up, but it certainly would remove you so you can't disable the education of those kids who WOULD behave so teaching can happen.

I predict after about 5 years of this economic meltdown forcing the Yalies to take inner-city teaching jobs, expulsion will suddenly, mysteriously, become fashionable again.

And jail time for juvenile deliquents who cause the Discipline Deans to pull back bloody stumps needs to make a comeback, too.

Kylie said...

Anonymous said..."I'm sure Steve has read Joshua Kaplowitz's "How I Joined Teach for America—and Got Sued for $20 Million," which first appeared in The City Journal in 2003, but it's a must read if you want to understand the abject futility of this program. It's got it all."

So does the article in this blog entry:

http://martynemko.blogspot.com/2009/06/white-teacher-speaks-out-what-is-it.html

It's lengthy but worthwhile.

Mark Wethman said...

I recently became good friends with a very liberal Jewish woman I met at an MFA program up in New England (SWPL heaven!). She's a public schoolteacher and I asked her what she thought about her job:

Me: "So what do you think about your job?"
Her: "I hate it. It's a sinking ship."
Me: "What, your job or the school?"
Her: (laughs) "America."

So true. So true.

Anonymous said...

Why are virtually all of your commenters cranks of one form or another?

Don't you have any normal people who read you?

Anonymous said...

All we have to do to fix the schools is destroy the dpt of Edumacation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lucinda. Usage errors are rather galling in posts dedicated to education and the shortcomings of others.

And the first commenter is absolutely right. The teacher need not know any more than the subject matter at hand, inside and out, and not much beyond it.

And no, little Johnny doesn't really need to know the concept of why 2*2=4; at that age memorization is sufficient. In fact, any fuzzyheaded departures into number theory and scientific application just mystifies and intimidates the little bastards.

Anonymous said...

The aptly named Ben Jealous would be given the shock of his worthless, parasitic life if whites ever did die out. He and all the other black supremacists are so consumed with resentment and jealousy of white civilization that they would destroy the country just to stick it to the white man. But when America is turned into Detroit writ large, who will they blame? Would they finally realize that, far from being their oppressors, white America was their only chance at a decent standard of living? It looks like some blacks in South Africa and Zimbabwe finally get it.

Janus said...

Even if the culture of inner-city schools were more orderly and disciplined, it still makes no sense to send 140 IQ teachers into classes with average 85 IQ students. There could be good will on both sides, but the mental gulf is simply too wide for easy communication.

My intuition is that the ideal would be a teacher, with complete mastery of the subject matter and a facility for teaching, approximately 5 IQ points smarter than the student. In modern "inclusive" classrooms, where the IQ range in a typical elementary school classroom is probably 75-125, this is of course impossible. And of course most 90 IQ teachers wouldn't likely have mastery over even a third-grade curriculum. From my experience, the average elementary school teacher isn't competent with much more than fourth-grade math. The writing skills of younger teachers aren't much better.

Udolpho.com said...

Waste of talent? Yeah, the kids' talent. People, the best teachers are not going to be a bunch of zero experience Ivy fools, heads crammed full of the latest ed fads. Because this is high school material, and because the kids they are going to be teaching are most likely borderline retarded and have zero discipline, a high IQ and degree is not going to be remotely helpful to the schools or the kids.

What the kids need is experienced teachers, and not just experienced at teaching but experienced at handling these sorts of classrooms. Stop sperging about what a loss of talent this is to America. If anything, this puts those high IQ Ivies where they can do the least damage--trying to get Leron to stop hitting the other kids while his dreams of being played by Robert Downey Jr. in the feel good movie based on his story go down in flames.

I know the commenters here have a near total infatuation with IQ--the higher, the better, ALWAYS. This is the plainly dumb result of that infatuation: worrying that some baller teaching novice isn't going to be making your kid a genius because a hare-brained ed program is going to shift a minute percentage of unskilled teachers into the barrio.

PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

My only real hope for TFA would be that, by putting reasonably large numbers of elites in very direct contact with the dysfunctional underclass, it would eventually undermine destructive educational dogmas. But it seems like the program has been going on for some time now with no effects along those lines.

As for the idea that TFA people would go on to write educational software, I'd love a gender breakdown of TFA and software company founders. I guess you only need one -- or perhaps a handful -- but the numbers might be tougher than you think.

Anonymous said...

"No, but expulsion sure would. Not that it likely would make YOU shape up, but it certainly would remove you so you can't disable the education of those kids who WOULD behave so teaching can happen."

haha, I can't believe someone actually bit on this obvious troll.

David Davenport said...

... forgiveness of student loans ...

A strong motivation for TFA applicants?

Obsidian said...

Curvey Carbon says:

""intimidation" wouldn't work on kids like me."

No, but expulsion sure would. Not that it likely would make YOU shape up, but it certainly would remove you so you can't disable the education of those kids who WOULD behave so teaching can happen."

O: LOL. been there, done that, they tried and failed. Nope, intimidation doesn't work on me - instead, you gotta answer the hard questions I pose, and trust me, I done stumped and clowned many a White clueless mope in my day.

CC: I predict after about 5 years of this economic meltdown forcing the Yalies to take inner-city teaching jobs, expulsion will suddenly, mysteriously, become fashionable again.

O: When I see, it, I'll believe it.

CC: And jail time for juvenile deliquents who cause the Discipline Deans to pull back bloody stumps needs to make a comeback, too.

O: It's real simple - keep your hands to yourself, and answer the simple question smart Black kids like me pose to you, and all will be well.

Are we learning yet? ;)

O.

Obsidian said...

PRCaDude Says:
"You sound unemployable, at least in the productive economy."

O: Nope, been employed eversince highschool. And the same rule applies there - you keep your hands off me, and you'll live to see another day. :)

PR: This pseudo-masculine bluster reminds me of the stories my old man told me about fratdicks in his fraternity who tried to cross the (recent) Vietnam vets the chapter brought in to keep order. Suffice it to say, it wasn't the vets who were ending up with bloody stumps.

O: LOL. I'm nothing like the White frat boys you just mentioned. First off, I was taught in self defence by both my dad and grand dad, both of whom just happened to have been Marines. I boxed, studied martial arts and wrestled in highschool. Trust me when I tell you, it would be wise for the socalled toughguy White dudes to keep their hands to themselves when it came to me. Instead, actually engage me on the hard questions I pose to the clueless White mope teachers.

O.

Dennis Dale said...

but not the run-of-the-mill Harvard grads. Just the best Harvard graduates.

run-of-the-mill Harvard grads get to be president

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

"both of whom just happened to have been Marines"

I call b.s.

Marines are all about discipline, respect for superior officers and following orders with no backtalk.

Sons of Marines are some of the most yes-ma'am-ing, and hence, pleasant to teach, boys I've ever met.

(Unless Obstinant's pa and grampa were Dishonorably Discharged.)

Felix said...

Obsidian implores that his teaches "actually engage me on the hard questions I pose to the clueless White mope teachers".

Perhaps the teachers could address his questions if only the kidz were quiet enough to let the teachers do their real work.

In sum, O, perhaps your attitude is self-defeating.

TH said...

The Onion's take on Teach for America:

...
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."
...

Anonymous said...

Engelmanns program of Direct Instruction, a heavily behavioral, back to basics system with competency testing at every stage did make IQ 15 gain for black students

ABA another behavioral program made IQ 30 gains for autistics
and about IQ 8 gain for blacks

All other programs failed
This was documented back in 1970

experienced Baltimorian said...

"O: It's real simple - keep your hands to yourself, and answer the "...simple question smart Black kids like me pose to you, and all will be well."

I wish it were really true that they would keep their hands and their mouths to themselves. Of all the kinds of "kids" I've known, they are the least likely to do that. No wonder most people want to get away from them.

Anonymous said...

Here is an interesting story from the St. Petersburg Times.

"Times columnist and editorial board member Bill Maxwell kept a promise to himself, to become a professor at a small historically black college, to nurture needy students the way that mentors had encouraged him as a young man. It was tougher than he had anticipated."

His accounts are almost as bad as some of the accounts we hear about inner-city schools. Keep in mind, this is a college.

http://www.sptimes.com//2007/05/13/Opinion/I_had_a_dream.shtml

Obsidian said...

Curvey Carbon says:

"I call b.s.

Marines are all about discipline, respect for superior officers and following orders with no backtalk.

Sons of Marines are some of the most yes-ma'am-ing, and hence, pleasant to teach, boys I've ever met.

(Unless Obstinant's pa and grampa were Dishonorably Discharged.)"

O: "Obstinant"? Cute.

But, sorry to disappoint ya, but both grand dad and dad were honarbly discharged. Grand dad served as a DI during WW2, dad went to school on the GI Bill. They both stressed the importance of standing up for myself, and if need be, to defend myself.

And as I've already said to Felix, I was never a behavorial problem in school, and can count the number of times I actually saw fights break out in class on one hand over the course of a 12 year career; I just had the tendency to stump my White, clueless and female teachers, is all. And I was most polite in doing so. They were woefully incompetent, and I was keen to point this out to them. I know that is a really, really difficult thing for you to wrap your heads around, but trust me, stranger things have happened.

Again, I note no one, including you, were able to actually deal with what I said about the SP1200 and the young Black Men who used it. They had no formal musical or computer training.

Hmm.

Holla back

O.

Anonymous said...

Why are virtually all of your commenters cranks of one form or another?

Don't you have any normal people who read you?


Projecting are we?

If by normal you mean people who happily soak up the party line of the MSM, the supposed left/right divide of modern politics, then I hope not. You might want to get yourself over to Malcolm Gladwell's if you want that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

This thread seems a good place to mention this movie:

Finding Forrester (2000)

Not so much a movie,more like SWPL/TFA porn.

Im sure the TFA recruits see themselves in the Sean Connery role, the tough, gruff uber liberal who molds the bright black student into an academic star.

Perhaps after a year of teaching the real thing, they no longer even want to think about the movie, let alone watch it.

dr kill said...

They pay those assholes 45k? And forgive their educational loans?

anony-mouse said...

TFA 2010=Peace Corps 1962

Plus ca change.

Is the Peace Corps even around any more?

CJ said...

That story from the St. Petersburg Times recommended by one of the Anonymi is excellent. It deserves a functioning link.

I had a dream (of teaching journalism at a black college)

Glossy said...

"These teachers, called corps members..."

Band name alert! Corpse Member! It could happen in death metal, though Ivy Leaguers probably don't listen to that.

"People are reluctant to tell you because of the stigma of not getting in,” Ms. Carlson said."

I bet that when Mao was sending the children of the intelligentsia to plow fields during the Cultural Revolution, they were just as enthusiastic about it. This is because the young are sheep.

MichaelM said...

it's been suggested that it's "a colossal waste of talent" to have Harvard etc arts grads doiong teaching

but what's the alternative? they go to law school, get jobs in advertising agencies, etc. Hardly more productive activities

Anonymous said...

"NO ONE has the right to put their hands on me or get in my face."

Aw, that's cute. I picture Obsidian looking and sounding like a young Gary Coleman as he says this.

The problem with black education is clueless white mopes who can't handle the hard questions posed by smart black kids. Again, this is very cute, but you've taken this character into a strange (and nunconvincing) direction.

jody said...

"Almost nobody remembers that three decades ago Apple, with its initial Apple II computer, was primarily in the education hardware / software business."

er, unless you went to college within the last 20 years, where you probably encountered all the free macintosh equipment which apple gives to dozens (hundreds?) of universities, hoping to catch the undergrads "early" and turn them into macintosh buyers before they graduate and buy PCs.

the quotes from Ms. Nguyen cracked me up, and reminded me that this woman:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_Rhee

runs the public schools in washington DC. hard to imagine a bigger racial and cultural disconnect between the superintendent and the students.

Mitch said...

There's been a few stories on TFA's trendiness, how all the best students are applying.

Isn't there, oh, just one other reason why a college grad might need two years of a guaranteed job right at the moment?

Or a double digit reason, anyway?

More Anon said...

'We're constantly told that to make up for any minor inconveniences caused by letting in millions of uneducated illegal aliens, "all we have to do is fix the public schools.'

Related: Somebody compared the cost of educating a Mexican kid in the California schools to the cost of educating a Mexican kid in Mexico. Word is, the ratio is something like 18 to 1.

Draw your own conclusions...

Dennis Dale said...

Again, this is very cute, but you've taken this character into a strange (and unconvincing) direction.

Hear. I haven't been this impressed by an improv since Prison Mike.

You got a good life, Sailer commenters. You got a good life.

Fred said...

"Engelmanns program of Direct Instruction, a heavily behavioral, back to basics system with competency testing at every stage did make IQ 15 gain for black students"

An interesting connection between this and Steve's call for retired NCOs to work as deans of discipline in schools: Direct Instruction is essentially how the Army teaches new recruits in Basic Training. Drill Sergeants (the deans of discipline) transport their chargers to, say, the grenade range, and the training NCO there (the teacher) trains the troops by the book.

Training NCOs don't stay up late at night thinking up creative ways to teach a buck private how to throw a grenade. It's too dangerous, for one thing, to get creative when you're dealing with live grenades. They go by rote from the lesson plan: explain, demonstrate, have the recruits practice, then test them to see if they learned the material. If any recruit doesn't pay strict attention, the drill sergeants deal with him.

Taking this example to its logical conclusion, instead of just adding retired NCOs to be deans of discipline, hire more to be teachers too.

Steve Sailer said...

Along Fred's lines, one of the things that's clear from watching blockbuster movies like Transformers, Iron Man, and Avatar is how much audiences like the affect of well-trained U.S. soldiers: all the rote memorized recitals of the specifications of weapons in Iron Man 2, for instance.

And when we are talking about the audiences of blockbusters we are talking about, to a higher degree than any other group, teenage male Hispanics. In other words, exactly the people who are most dropping out of high school. They think it's cool to memorize cool stuff.

CamelCaseRob said...

Again, my plan: each school room to have 1 teacher and 1 disciplinarian. But, I don't think even that would work unless the disciplinarian is allowed to use corporal punishment.

David said...

Read John Taylor Gatto. The purpose of the American school system is to protect the current business elites and their families from competition. Thus, education isn't broken - it's working. It's working to keep unwanted people, unwanted families, and unwanted talent away.

Anonymous said (of "Teach America"):

>What a colossal waste of talent.<

That's the point.

From the point of view of the elites, the ideal is a mulatto world with no national borders, in which any talented (potentially competitive) children are jailed for 12 years being fed pablum and drugs.

Education is the answer and diversity is our strength!

Obsidian said...

I sure hope Mr. Sailer isn't letting my comments come through. I've already responded to Curvey Carbon and a few others, and I would really like to see them appear here in the comments thread because it is important to further the discussion from one who has actually experience the school system so many of you talk about secondhand at best.

Anyway, Mr. Anon says:

"NO ONE has the right to put their hands on me or get in my face."

A: Aw, that's cute. I picture Obsidian looking and sounding like a young Gary Coleman as he says this.

O: LOL

A: The problem with black education is clueless white mopes who can't handle the hard questions posed by smart black kids. Again, this is very cute, but you've taken this character into a strange (and nunconvincing) direction.

O: What's strange is the way you spell nonconvincing, LOL. Otherwise, yea, what I reported is 100%. I gain nothing from lying to a bunch of internet nerd geeks.

O.

Obsidian said...

Also, Steve,
Being that you spent a great deal of time out in Chitown, home of the NOI, one would think you'd be familiar with the "general orders" the FOIs had to memorize by heart.
So yea, there's definitely something to what you said above.

That being the case though, all parents don't want their sons going to para-military schools, I know my parents didn't want that for me. I was and continue to be a natural quiz kid, always posing those stubborn questions that those who purportedly know it all either can't admit they don't know the answers to, or refuse to admit they've been punked and their precious theories begin to fall apart. You guys keep skirting what my own direct experience says, that there was an entire cohort of absolutely clueless and wholly incompetent White female teachers, and they as much as anything played a role as to why so many Black kids were poorly educated.

Again, I know of what I speak.

Holla back.

O.

Obsidian said...

Oh, and while I'm on the point, let me say this...

While Fred makes a good point, I have to note a very important distinction, and again, this coming from several generations of Marines: there is a HUGE difference between an Army guy and a jarhead. The former may rely on rote learning, but the latter relies on improvisation and creative thinking, too. The reasons for this is because the Marines historically was the smallest of the armed forces, the first ones into a conflict and saw the worst combat action. These conditions fostered more independence of thought and action, and again, my gannd dad and dad always instilled in me to question the "orders" given to me by others and determine for myself as to whether said "orders" were legitimate or not. Anyone who knows anything about the military knows that when push comes to shove, Marines are the thinking Man's fighting force (aside from the Air Force, but I mean actual trigger pullers on the ground).

I'm just saying.

O.

PRCalDude said...

LOL. I'm nothing like the White frat boys you just mentioned. First off, I was taught in self defence by both my dad and grand dad, both of whom just happened to have been Marines. I boxed, studied martial arts and wrestled in highschool.

So you're the same as everyone else on the internet. I bet you're 6'2" and 240 lbs of twisted metal and flesh also.

Fred said...

"They think it's cool to memorize cool stuff."

Sure, and why not? It's cool to demonstrate mastery of something, and the Army has a history of facilitating memorization with mnemonics. If you consider that stuff like playing chess or practicing medicine is mostly memorization, it should be possible to get average and slightly-below-average kids to memorize basic English, math, and life skills.

A bunch of retired NCOs could probably put together a really effective charter school using military methods, including physical training first thing in the morning (Recruits are usually too tired to be make trouble in classes if they wanted to; they're more likely to fall asleep, which results in them getting hazed and made to stand in the back instead of sitting). But the ex-NCOs would probably have difficulty getting through the bureaucracy.

jody said...

"So you're the same as everyone else on the internet. I bet you're 6'2" and 240 lbs of twisted metal and flesh also."

haha. he's one of those guys who "saw UFC 1 live, when it happened."

every internet tough guy claims to have first seen UFC in 1993, and pretends they didn't actually first hear about it when TUF showed up on spike TV in 2005.

Gene Berman said...

Gentlemen--ALL:

The juxtaposition of this article with the one preceding is a very clear example (although how many do we really need?) of just how regularly and uniformly our society has actually institutionalized and exalted the doing of just the wrong thing.
This isn't a mistake we've made and can fix by doing a better job in each of the areas. It's the same whether talking of various bad effects of uncontrolled immigration, of the idiocy of threatening profit-sseking bankers with the prospect that the sure way to success is to make riskier and riskier loans to people not likely to repay (but where the profit is "guaranteed"), or of permitting the "organization" of government employees against their employers--the people--which would have been felonious conduct not all that long ago. None of these processes gone haywire is the problem and attacking any one or several of them piecemeal is a sure route to their continuation, even though changed somewhat in form.

The problem is not immigration, it's not bank regulation, it's not affirmative action or any other anti-meritocratic hiring sytem, nor is it, except in form, a crisis in education at either the eleementary/secondary or the collegiate level; nor has health care got anything to do with it.

The problem can be stated in a single word: socialism. To attack any one or several of the problems individually is pointless (and will be fruitless). Only concerted attack on the root is capable of
starving the branches and leaves.
Socialists themselves, if they are in any way canny, probably welcome attacks against the various branches: thus, the root is protected. Nor are they prevented from fighting tooth and nail for each of these branches, even further guaranteeing the safety of the root itself, all attention being drawn to the branches only.

The most ironic part is that socialism cannot possibly win: it is a self-defeating system and, even in its milder forms can only "work" temporarily through tyrannical restrictions on ordinary freedoms; more thorogoing systems require totalitarian suppression of nonconforming activity and dissenting opinion.
We are surely headed, whether precipitiously or by fits and starts, in that direction with not a sign of any purposive, knowledgeable opposition in sight.

Anonymous said...

""intimidation" wouldn't work on kids like me."

"No, but expulsion sure would."


Yup.

That is what I did when I identified a loser. I cut him no slack and documented. I declared in my mind that I wouldn't settle for getting him out of my class. My goal was to get him out of the building. It worked too. The other kids weren't so stupid that they didn't know which teacher got him expelled.

Anonymous said...

I'm sold on Vice Principals of Discipline composed of an NCO corps.

How I'd do it:

1. Make it deployed National Guard, which should be 100% legal.
2. Make it for identified schools where student behavior is a problem.
3. The classroom NCO is subordinate to the civilian teacher. The head of the NCO chain of command is subordinate to the school principal/chief executive.

It's that simple. The problem of discipline in an officer led army is solved by NCO's. I think a major difference is school discipline can be achieved the same way. No corporal punishment even necessary.

Hopefully Anonymous

http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

sj071 said...

'Read John Taylor Gatto. The purpose of the American school system is to protect the current business elites...'

Yes, but there's also providing full- and part-time employment for numerous union members enforcing uniform backward thinking at early age, and later on acting as a buffer (read: holding pen) to relieve the pressure on (lately non-existent) job market.

Re: This New Educational Software sucks!
Steve, members of Edjukashn Guild might start preying on your livestock, or even worse, if you continue with this blasphemous line of thinking...

Anonymous said...

"If you consider that stuff like playing chess or practicing medicine is mostly memorization, it should be possible to get average and slightly-below-average kids to memorize basic English, math, and life skills. "

Yes, but average for Hispanics and Blacks is well below average. So what do you teach them.

I suggest birth control.

Anonymous said...

Both ABA which gains 30IQ in Autistics and Direct Instruction which gains blacks 15IQ

Teach compliance as the first step, without compliance there is no learning

The kids dont talk back
Its all yes maam and yes sir

very military like
Drill, practise , repeat, gain testable mastery and move onto next skill


Direct Instruction gains more than 20 - 25 IQ for white normal kids
Initially Engelmann was hesitant in promoting this method to whites for fear of widening the gap

Mike Courtman said...

"Nah, the Stanford folks can write the lesson plans and print the index cards."

Good point, why is so little of western education budgets spent on textbooks, lesson ideas, computer games etc, and wouldn't it be better to let the high IQ types do this?

A good teacher can only teach a 100 or students, but a good textbook can slightly improve the learning of millions.

As far as secondary school goes, specialisation is the only way to go - academic schools for the bright kids and vocational schools for the non-academic kids. This is one thing the Europeans have got right.

Anonymous said...

"I can promise you, if any one of them put a hand on me, they're drawing back a bloody stump - NO ONE has the right to put their hands on me or get in my face."

lol at the internet beta acting like a tough guy. I bet you've never been able to raise your voice with anyone outside of your family.

David said...

>The problem can be stated in a single word: socialism.<

After all that build-up, we get something out of a Sean Hannity book.

Socialism is merely an economic system which all societies use in various forms; it is not a catch-all term for the death of a race (our actual problem).