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Devaluing teachers and Teach for America

Devaluing teachers and Teach for America

schools10's picture

I really appreciated your points about how teachers and teachers' unions are portrayed by the media. Teaching is increasingly being treated as an unskilled profession, and teachers' agency and creativity are being taken away. As teachers are being portrayed as unskilled workers and are being blamed for the failures of their students on standardized tests, teachers' unions are blamed for making it difficult to fire "bad" teachers. Looking forward, this makes me think about how Teach for America characterizes traditionally certified teachers as lazy and unskilled while simultaneously portraying recent college graduates with minimal training in education as more competent teachers than unionized educators who have been in the classroom for years. The popularity of Teach for America has created a discourse of teaching as a form of volunteer work or military service, where young people can put in a little time with minimal investment in training on their way to more lucrative careers and believe that they are "making a difference." There is plenty of evidence, however, the untrained Teach for America servicemembers have a negative impact on their students compared to traditionally trained teachers. We should be investing in unions and training and support for teachers who want to make a commitment to their profession and their schools in order to build communities of learning. Investing in individuals who are truly passionate about teaching is a sustainable solution to the education crisis. Vilifying unions and demanding that teachers work for less and less or compete with unqualified college graduates is not.

Crawford-Garrett, Katherine. Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform: Searching for Agency in an Era of Standardization. New York: Peter Lang, 2013. 

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