In recent days, this space has carried a couple of stories concerning the state Board of Teaching’s failure to implement a 2011 law allowing teachers who earned licensed in other states after completing alternative-certification programs to win Minnesota licenses.
The shorthand version of the debate that ensued — or was revived — in the comment threads here and on a variety of education-oriented Facebook pages and websites: Teach for America teachers = gifted gap-closers headed for positions of influence, vs. Teach for America teachers = at best inferior to teachers with more experience and education, ill-prepared foot-soldiers in a conspiracy to privatize education at worst.
Neither MinnPost piece reprised this debate. As a matter of public policy, a majority of legislators decided that Minnesota students will be served best by a variety of teacher-preparation pipelines, the governor eventually concurred and some odds-beating schools are desperate to see the alt-cert pipeline primed. The agency tasked with making this happen hasn’t.
Do people like the policy? Separate question.
There are a number of folks who are unhappy with the resulting law — and a few who are mighty unhappy with my coverage of it. In the interest of broadening the discussion, I commend to you two links that will steer you to the harshest of the cases being made against Teach for America in particular and to a debate that’s much more detailed than the one that took place in the comments thread here.
The Public Education Justice Alliance of Minnesota (PEJAM) is “a grassroots community organization of teachers, parents, students, and community members dedicated to defending and supporting a fully funded, just, equitable, and democratic system of public education” headed by several Minneapolis Federation of Teachers leaders. TFA corps members, they argue, are the “vanguard of the corporate reformers.”
I’ll stay out of this one, except to note that I believe that the secret conspiracy is actually a stated part of the TFA philosophy. After their two-year stint, some corps members will continue to teach, some will head off to grad school or a different career, and some will take their galvanizing classroom experiences and go on to positions of leadership, either in education or public policy.
PEJAM’s blogger in chief is one of the many people lighting up the comment thread over at the Contract for Student Achievement (CSA) Facebook page, where odd educational and political bedfellows go to swap good reads and engage in cyber-nattering.
Cyber debaters: from Garofalo to Panning-Miller
How odd? Check out the CSA post about PEJAM’s TFA blog post by former Minneapolis School Board member and Contract organizer Chris Stewart. The first comment is from Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, about as conservative an education policy voice as this state has at the moment. Further down, MFT leader and PEJAM blogger Robert Panning-Miller describes himself as a socialist.
These last two gentlemen may have more in common than they think: Neither is shy about their dislike of MinnPost and my education reporting. If they’d like to go get a beer with each other, I’d be happy to pick up the tab.