Live & Learn: We Teach for the Students, Not the Politicians

| February 7, 2013 | 0 Comments | Live & Learn

Opinion

by Riley O’Casey
Contributor

The scariest proposal that Governor McDonnell supports is bringing Teach for America to Virginia.

Teach for America was created to “recruit and train the best and brightest recent college graduates to accept full-time teaching assignments in hard-to-staff schools.”

I’ve known since I was 10 years old that I wanted to be a teacher.  My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Howard, was my inspiration, loving me unconditionally even when I was in trouble with the principal while guiding my love for learning.  I have been blessed to learn from so many amazing educators; it’s because of them I am a teacher.

Teaching is a calling; it is not an easy job.  However, there is nothing more satisfying and exciting when you observe a child who understands your lesson…a child who receives an “A” that they rarely receive…a child who works through a problem and comes out on top…a child who does everything they can just to please you!  There is nothing else in this world more important than the teacher who changes the life of a child!

The problem with Teach for America is that the best and brightest only receive about five weeks of training to become a teacher. Five weeks? Parents, would you want your child in a classroom with a teacher who only had five weeks of training? When I think of Teach for America, I think of the cliché “Those who can do; those who can’t teach.”

The majority of teachers spent more than five years training for their career.  After spending an hour on the TFA website, looking under Qualifications, I found no indication that those applying for TFA had to be highly qualified in their teaching content. For example, I double majored in Psychology and History for my undergraduate work. I am currently teaching Civics (Social Studies). I am considered highly qualified. After the passing of No Child Left Behind, teachers must be highly qualified. Are those teaching with Teach for America highly qualified?

In fact, acceptance in the summer program (summer of 2013) allows you placement in a school for the 2013 – 2014 school year. What about student teaching? Bringing Teach for America to Virginia’s schools does not agree with his statement that this is the “year of the teacher.” Too many of the statements from Governor McDonnell made in his K-12 Education Agenda Initiatives sound very similar to many of the statements made by Michelle Rhee.  Educators…parents…beware!  Be knowledgeable!  Be involved!

My niece recently stated that she wanted to be a teacher. I explained the pros and cons of teaching and told her to think long and hard about it before she made a decision. Then I asked most of my teacher friends for advice. Almost all of them responded with a, “Don’t do it!” These are hard working and dedicated people, who have devoted their entire being to educating children, so it might surprise some that they would respond in this manner.

The “do more and more with less and less” attitude is taking its toll on Virginia’s teachers. We need our legislators’ support; we need them to stand up for us.  If they refuse to do this, this cliché rings true: “Those who can teach; those who can’t pass laws about teaching.”

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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