TFA in the Suburbs?

By Anthony Rebora — May 29, 2008 1 min read
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Robert Pondiscio, writing on the blog of the Core Knowledge Foundation, has an idea for Teach For America’s Wendy Kopp: Instead of sending all these young and inexperienced teachers into the nation’s lowest-performing schools, why not arrange things so they could serve as “pinch-hitters” in high-performing schools, while experienced, master teachers from those schools take on stints (possibly for increased pay) in disadvantaged areas with the kids who need them most.

Think of it. Our kids who are furthest behind would get what they really need-the best teachers, not just the best-intentioned teachers. Meanwhile, your freshly recruited, elite college grads can learn their craft at a high-functioning school, leaning to become yet another great teacher alongside competent professionals instead of being overmatched in the trenches among other neophytes and burnt out teachers.

Nice idea, Kopp replies, but that’s not the way it works:

I don’t think this would be a good thing for urban and rural kids. It is a rare person who has what it takes to excel as a teacher in a low-income community, and it’s not at all a given that teachers who do well in more privileged communities will do well in urban and rural areas. ... The individuals who come to Teach For America are coming because they want to work with the nation’s most disadvantaged children (and it is unlikely that most of them would decide to channel their energy toward teaching in more privileged contexts), and in fact their motivation to level the playing field for them is one reason for their success.

Hat tip: eduwonk.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.