tv The Stream Al Jazeera February 25, 2014 2:30am-3:01am EST
(deeply saddened to here of the departing of my friend." >> that will do for the broadcast. i'm thomas drayton, thanks for watching. huh, i'm lisa fletcher, and you are in "the stream." teach for america is a program designed to revolutionize how kids in low-income areas are taught. the question tonight is where to its mission. ♪ >> our digital producer, wajahat ali is here, bringing in all of your live
feedback. % >> this has overwhelmed us. >> it takes a lot for you to be overwhelmed by the way. >> yeah, because there has been so much online engagement that i will try my best to honor it. and we have christina who tweeted in . . . and our stub page has this huge page going back and forth. here is a comment from chad . . . on the flip side, ginger says . . . here is a critic . . . and the last
one, eric says . . . >> we got a lot to talk about. this hashtag recently come come -- dominated twitter. since 1990 the program has trained young college grads as full-time instructors. they are sent into the more challenged districts in in the nation. but some are left to ask if the group is more about image than results. resist tfa tweets like these are getting attention. one says . . .
but why now? one of the hashtag's organizers says college students need to be up. >> we started this campaign because as college students we know college campuses are the core recruiting grounds for teach for america. we wanted to make sure the students know exactly what they were getting themselves into. >> the organization says it is not only injecting new talent and leaders to innovate inside and outside of the classroom, other. >> there is a sense of triumph that you get through teaching that i have not found anywhere else. i get so much satisfaction out of telling the parents of the students i teach your children are my children. >> so to the sentiment of that teacher represent the group as a hole? or have they lost touch with their mission?
to help sort this out we're joined by author of excellence for all, a teacher -- a teach for america alum and professor of education, the executive director of tfa milwaukee. and a member of teach for america working at a school in miami. tamika you started working in al challenging part of baltimore. why did you join and what do you think it was that tfa aimed to do? the >> i joined for a few reasons. i knew i wanted to be a teacher, and i had an education concentration as an english major for a few years, and it would have taken me an extra semester to student teach to i decided not to do that. i had been volunteering in this
schools in durham where i was an undergrad, and wanted to do more for black children in particular. because i knew that experience of not being served. so that's why i wanted to join. >> and what did you think the purpose was? what was their motivation? >> you know, i was really drawn in by this idea that one -- i would be working towards this one day that all children would have access to excellent education, and i thought i would be a part of that, and i have to say i thought was joining an organization individuals. >> maurice you are from milwaukee, wisconsin, the inner city schools there like so many other areas are really tough. talk about what teachers are up against in those areas, and how tough it is for kids to learn.
>> the work is really challenging. i taught in 2008 in atlanta, georgia. my day started at 5:00 am, it ended usually at midnight. i worked harder than i had ever worked in my entire life. i taught 55 juniors in southwest atlanta. many had outside challenges that were unimaginable. many of the girls who i taught either had kids or were pregnant when i taught. i taught 11th grade. so it was tough to say the least. many of my students didn't have both parents at home. but it took our teachers wrapping our arms around our kids, -- embracing parents to make a difference. i knew i wanted to teach. i didn't want to go to law school.
>> there are two ways to answer that. one is to say no. and the other is to say they are a lot better prepared today than they were 20 years ago. >> they are an effective group. they learn from their mistakes. they get better over time. they are very good at marshalling fundraisers, and that's one reason why they are so visible. >> i think a lot of people will debate the word effective. because while they have a higher rerate in the first year, by the time you get to the second and third year, it's 80% of those that entered are gone. >> yeah, they don't last, so that's why my first answer is no. you know, the second way of approaching that is to say you can't train a teacher in in five weeks. tsf has done a laudable job of
improving their training, but they can't extend that training period, because they can only ask people to commit to two years, but the answer is the vast majority leave, and they can't spend more than five weeks training. and that's a major roadblock. >> do you think that is preventing tsa from ultimately accomplishing what it has set out to do? >> so circularly about the attrition, not the five week's training? >> well, you can comment on both. i was thinking about the attrition rate, yes, but the five week's training perhaps that is part of the reason they leave so early. >> i don't think the five weeks is the reason a lot of them leave early. but i think those who leave
early for the most part actually had no intention of staying. and i have a problem with that. do this for two years, and then go on to do the next thing that is really -- you know, the thing that is important. so if the organization would rethink that, but instead of positioning this as this is just something to do enroute to something else. >> well, when we come back, there is a price tag on the teach for america program and you are paying a good chunk of the bill. the question are students getting a good return on your investment. we'll talk about why the program went up nearly 2,000% in the last year or so. but first, check out the latest -- >> tv is no longer one way with the stream second screen app. get exclusive app content, receive graphs,
>> they wanna pay you five dollars an hour... ten...twelve hours a day... >> caring for the caregivers, on al jazeera america ♪ welcome back, we're talking about the teach for america program, and whether it's fulfilling its mission to teach in the most underserved classrooms, and whether the cost is a good use of money. marreese, the tsa program negotiates fees for an additional 2 to $5,000 per teacher per year. could that money be better spent somewhere else? >> i don't think so. in a lot of our school districts -- we're placed in high-needs areas where there are not a lot of teachers to fill the capacity. unfortunately there are not a
lot of teachers who have by-lingual training here, and we're able to get recruits who do. and in terms of attrition, 61% of our teachers complete a third year in the classroom. a third of all of the teachers since 1990 are still in classrooms today. so i don't think it is a waste of money. >> so kamika, the former research director of tsa is not reliable, because only about 15% of the teachers are in grades or subjects that are subjected to standardized testing. so how do we know if the program is worth or money or really helping students? > well, whether or not the data was reliable, i wouldn't want to rely solely on
standardized test scores to determine teacher's levels. what i thought was effective and what i thought was helping students when i was 21 years old is very different now, 15 years later, with the experiences that i have had, so is it worth the money? i think that's a hard question to answer, and i think it has a lot to do with different regions around the country, for how the money is use. maurice spoke about bi-lingual placements. and that may be a concern in milwaukee. i'm concerned about special education placement. >> but no matter what they specialize in, there has got to be metrics involved, right? you can't spend $200 million a year on something and not know if it is working. >> sure.
>> i was making more of an observation here. >> first in regard to maurice's point. that's a false choice idea that tfa teachers are in classrooms that they would not otherwise be in. but tfa core members are more effective than traditionally certified teachers, and the fact is, the research on that is not clear. and tfa core members are the most effective teachers that you can get in the classroom. and that is flat-out not true. and the kids who need effective career long educators who are committed to growing are not getting those teachers. they are getting teachers who get a lot better in those two years but never become truly masters of craft. >> we have a lot of teachers who
have tweeted in, lisa . . . and we have a video comment. give it a listen. >> problem i have expressed repeatedly about teach for america and other alternative groups is that it never allows the community to build capacity for it to teach. if you insert teachers and replace them with folks that are not likely to stay then the community never develops the talent it needs. >>
mackenzie has tfa marginalized those teachers who have ties to the community for the sake of promoting these young underexperienced teachers? >> i honestly don't think any of the veteran teachers at my school feel marginalized. they understand where we're coming from. we understand where they are coming from. we come into the schools with the utmost of humility. there's no, we're doing it right way you're doing it the wrong way. we're very humble. in essence, i'm a first-year teacher. i haven't been doing this very long. if you have been doing something, let me know what you have been doing. let me tell you my ideas. and let's not be who is right and who is wrong?
>> do you intend to stay beyond the two years? >> i do. i work at the school i attended and graduated from, but i can also understand why you would want to leave. right now, here with -- i feel like the power of proximity. i'm very close to a problem that is happening in public education, so that charges me to want to further myself so i can come back and help the kids they taught or kids like them. >> yeah. >> i can understand how some people mighting want to leave so they can do even more. make their impact even greater. >> maurice go ahead. >> i think her point exemplifies a lot of what we are doing across the country. i work in my hometown, so this notion of all teach for america are privileged white rich teens is not true.
i work tirelessly to get 75 wisconsin, madison seniors, people of color, people from the milwaukee community to apply to teach for america this year. we believe people who look like us, who have the shared experience, need to be the people at the table too. so we are trying to build sustainability while trying to go to the 830 campuses where we movement. >> this organization starts out to reach into these incredibly underserved communities and put really qualified teachers in there to teach. a large percentage of the tfa folks are now going into charter schools, a lot of which are now doing quite well. how do you explain that? >> tfa's organizational mission was not to put qualified teachers into the classroom.
if you read the senior thesis that it was born out of. she says explicitly that tfa will be filling gaps, and that they will never make claims that they can do in their program what traditional teacher licensure programs can do -- >> but didn't you say take the 500 most exceptional educators -- >> she said she wanted to find the best and brighter students to go in and do something like the peace corps for education. in her mind the aim was to fill gaps and use smart young dedicated people in a manner that had been pursued in the 1970s. >> so fast forfast to the charter schools. >> sure. the effectiveness is all over the map.
and the overall ethos of this reform movement squares with the ethos of the charter school movement. it's common sense approaches to school reform. i think everybody involved is well intended, i just think a lot of them don't understand that in order for schools to improve, you can't have onetime solutions that can be funded by big donors who are after scaleable big solutions. you need long-term investment, you need to build capacity, and make sure the relationship that matters most is between teachers and students. that the teachers know who they are teaching, and every single year they are growing. and teachers who are there do go. but after three years that's when you finally an effective teacher. after that, not so much, and that's what we need to work on.
we don't need to work on getting more inexperienced teachers into the classroom, we need to work on teachers who have 10th, 20th year teachers growing like they did in the first few years. >> all right. let's get some community . . . higher charter enrollment, lisa, to him means weaker district commitment. >> so it is time for the tsaed by model to change? tweet us with the hashtag ajmstream. waj is going to get your
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♪ welcome back, we're talking about the teach for america program, and whether at 24 years in, be it's business model is still effective. jack, unlikely this program is going anywhere any time soon, but it is time for a facelift or a major overhaul? where is it hat -- at? >> i think we need to square the rhetoric with our practices. i think there is a place for teach for america. i do know why teach for america gets so much more attention than a program with like the urban teacher residence says that we have in boston. it's a great program that is
very similar to teach for america in a lot of ways, but they are trying to do one of the things referred to earlier, which is give a root into teaching for folks who may not otherwise pursue licensure. they help those people get license. they give them a year in classrooms shadowing an experienced teacher -- >> like an apprenticeship. >> and after a year those people move into the classroom, dedicate at least three years, and 80% of students who have completed the boston teacher residency are still teaching in classrooms. >> our community has come in with a whole bunch of solutions . . .
and mackenzie you were talking earlier about working with the experienced teachers. how do we work together to make it better for all of the kids? >> i feel like teach for america teachers, we come in with energy. we're ready to work. whatever we need to do, we're going to do it. i think with our innovations matched with their experience, their skill, their knowledge, i feel like we can come together to do lots of things, but that involves us being in the school.
that involves us being seen as equals, not just, oh, i think this is what we should do, but being at the table to rearrange the menu with these people. so get a diverse way of everybody's perspective. because right now, public education is something we cannot afford to mess up with, so any sort of avenues that we need to improve it, we need to take those. and whoever is willing to do it, we need to trust in them. >> maurice, give us your final thoughts. >> i think the future of tfa is great. most of my students received free or reduced lunch. 100% african american, and we saw many of them become the first in their family to go to college. so that's why i will never resist tfa. >> all right. thanks
so all of our guests. until next time, waj and i will see you online. ♪ >> looking for leadership - ukraine's new powerplayers are trying to form a government by the end of the day. >> welcome to al jazeera. live from doha. also on the program - a day after a top pakistani talibani commander was targeted, an air strike in the tribal areas kills for than 30 people. downsizing - the u.s. defense secretary plans to shrink the army to its smallest size since world war ii. >>