Tuesday March 16, 2010 | Teach for America

March 15, 2010 at 10:40 am | Posted in Coming Up | 12 Comments

We’ll talk to Founder and CEO of Teach for America, Wendy Kopp. Since its inception in 1990, Teach for America has trained and placed teachers in low income school regions all over the country. Their mission is to reduce educational inequality and the achievement gap. Wendy Kopp is in town for a series of discussions with CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman, Mayor Anthony Foxx and others, but first she joins us to talk about education reform.
Wendy Kopp
– Founder and CEO, Teach for America
Tim Hurley – Executive Director, Teach for America Charlotte

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  1. Dear Tim, This is Vernon Menard from Choice Translating saying hello from Lima, Peru! I want to thank you and Wendy for your ongoing commitment to education. Can you speak about TFA’s international expansion plans?

  2. When Teach For America teachers show up at a school system (like CMS for instance), principals are directed by the system to funnel the best preforming students into the Teach For America classes. Does anyone expect low scores from this practice? Also the teachers are likely to leave before they see any hard cases that would really test their abilities to teach.
    Also the recent Harvard study of CMS indicated that Teach For America teachers had little effect on test scores.

  3. I believe that for anyone who wants it the public schools in America offer exellent educations. There will always be those who do not take advantage of the opportunity. Perhaps many of our problems with education lie outside of our schools. When will we hold parents and students accountable?

  4. These Teach for America aspirations are all well and good, and I applaud you all for your idealism, but you all still are not taking in to account simple demographics as well as biological (racial/ethnic) differences in intelligence and educational abilities that are hindering many groups from moving forward in the 21st Century.

    There is a reason why states with a large percentage of African-Americans (Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc) are consistently at the bottom of the educational rankings: IQ tests and old fashioned scientific observation clearly shows that African-Americans and people of African descent in general are not as educationally inclined as other groups. It is the ‘Nigeria vs. Norway’ dichotomy — it is going to take literally HUNDREDS of years for a nation like Nigeria to catch up with a country like Norway in terms of education and general civilization, that much cannot be denied; thus, a few years in a classroom isn’t going to change a thing…this is a systemic issue.

    If we wholesale exchanged the population of Mississippi with Massachusetts, for example, we would see the general educational level of Mississippi rise whilst Massachusetts would fall. Also, as many parts of California and other Western states have seen a huge influx of Hispanic immigrants, the educational levels of those areas has dropped precipitously. To continue to irrationally ignore or deny the huge role of demographics as well as racial/ethnic differences in intelligence is pure folly.

  5. The fact that America’s demographics have changed is one of the fundamental issues facing American education. Teachers are doing their best to reach their students. However, many teachers are experiencing difficulties teaching across cultures. This is an area that needs a fundamental shift in TFA’s efforts.

    • Now here is a really cool prop who knows about Diop and the origins of high African civilization. I doubt he could say publicly what he really thinks about our narrow cultural norms and how they disable our educational system. If business must be global then culture is sure to follow. The paper thin veneer of McDonalds and Ford cannot prevail as a monoculture, for that would be the death of human adaptation.

      I do not believe education must be “one way.” Paolo Freire, Margaret Mead, Myles Horton and Ivan Illich did not give their lives for that nightmare.

  6. So many students hate reading because they are not ready to read. I did not read until 5th grade. However, because my parents read to me, my teachers taught about social studies, science and math. which were interesting, when i was ready to read it was easy because the words were in my vocabulary. Students today do not have a strong content area.

  7. Tell that to the veteran teachers of whom I have talked to. They loos their best performers to the Teach For America system.

  8. To The Realist: Racial or Ethnic factors have nothing to do with intelligence or educational capabilities and for you to even suggest that lets me know something about your own education and intelligence level. This is NOT the 1940s! The biggest factors in education actually have to do with students socioeconomic backgrounds DESPITE race. Even with that said, just because a student may be from a low-income family does NOT mean that those students are automatically incapable of learning! I’m appalled at your comments.

  9. Mike Collins was at the top of his game today, as a broadcaster and as a man. True, that he read the press release material information to introduce Wendy Kopp and Teach for America, as a matter of polite procedure, but he did not let anyone off the hook, or let anyone garner undeserved kudos. Late in the show he said (paraphrase)”I have done about a million shows on this subject (referring to teaching difficulties and failures in public schools) but no one yet has explained to me why things are this way and why they are not getting better.”

    I have volunteered in Philadelphia and Washington, DC schools, and I probably know what it’s like to face kids whose living situation will not support them in being ready for, or comfortable in, school. Not only are we a society with a sizable and growing underclass destined for failure (some, even if they are educationally gifted), but we are also maintaining an outmoded and unnecessarily rigid educational model. Schools still resemble factories, and the crudest of offices, at a time when we know our most productive workers are mobile and self-directed. I vehemently resent the open and cruel racism of persons like Realist who also dwell in the darkest past. If you look at the most phenomenal teachers, they are taking and sending students on daily fieldtrips and outreach, inviting in knowledgeable guests, setting up independent study projects even for 5th and 6th graders. The best way to learn is to really do. We see this with Jeffrey Canada’s comprehensive approach in Harlem and in the best private and charter programs.

    I would go so far as to assert that teachers in CMS have more in common with prison guards than with the best educators in successful programs. Hack Peter Gorman is at best an apologist serving the better off. We all know that schools remain a class sorting mechanism that picks winners according to network connections and parental status and that in this mission they cripple some and empower others. I see it especially over here in Gaston County Schools where prospects are bleak and the deprived majority (White, Black and Latino) are being conditioned as abused minimum waged and underground economy wage slaves. Mike Collins must have been in classrooms too because he described accurately the phenomenon of the human spark of hope and healthy curiosity fading from children’s eyes as early as grade school. He went on to say that for such broken animals school becomes an ordeal of shame, failure and routine punishment. If you listened to Tom Ashbrook’s program (On Point) about how textbooks are censored and stupified you realize we are fattening heads for a coming financial slaughter, trainwashing future debtors.

    It’s not too much better for the corrections officers called teachers. The majority of education program graduates are of mediocre intellect and charisma, people looking for secure, respectable employment in an uncertain world. Most don’t last long, and those who do can be zombies and brutes. This is not to say that slumming upper middle class Teachers for America provide an meaningful solution. Not just anyone can afford to revive their conscience and enter the program because recruits are often subsidized by their family resources. I do not doubt politically motivated principals allocate these spoiled ones the sweetest fruits in their basket. The worst thing is that subsidized and special temporary volunteers with their long hours and intense dedication are used as union busters to break the minority of real professional educators. Teachers are just like anyone else earning a living with car payments, student loans, spouses and children of their own, but this is forgotten when the dilettante second career adventurer or young single class martyr arrives. The United States is full of educators who were priced out of teaching already, and some idiots think it advisable to lower salaries. Absurd! It only goes to show how anti-intellectuals begrudge the essential professions any security.

    Hooray for successful Teach for America recruits but woe unto a program that becomes a self-celebrating end in itself without regard to the dire straits our nation faces. The extremest tax opposers would advocate all schools be private, just like our failed health care market. Look at our poor working people stretched and crushed by corporate business exploitation over 30years since rotten-brained, GE product Reagan, who thought catsup a vegetable. (At least he could hand out commodity cheese in times of relative plenty, while now our foodstocks are nonexistant.

    The same class who volunteers to teach for cheap went to the Spanish Civil war in the 1930s while our nation recovered from the implosion that resulted from the great divide of wealth and income distribution in that era. In our time no legislation, even from “socialist” Obama, addresses that material gap, except to intensify it. Tea party squadroons are in the street naming scapegoats at the behest of corporate interests while media remains mute on the real cause of America’s cascade failure: materialistic greed, plutonomy and purposeful miseducation and misinformation. Thank you Mike Collins for coming as close as anyone in Charlotte media dares to the hot third rail of naked truth. You done good today, Mike Collins.

    • do u refer to the recent Texas school board textbook selections? sets a trend for the rest of America they say.
      How about Bush 2’s plan to privatize social security and invest in GE equities at $50. So we can sell it for $25 when we can retire. If we get off this Light Sweet Crude maybe GE can get back to it’s Glory Days. Even Rogers at DUK knows we need leadership in energy. And what happened to Wachovia? Did Burr’s wife contribute to a run on the bank’s deposits in 2008 or was it a run on Wachovia stock. Apparently Bush and Burr let Wachovia fail. Just like any politician — they all act in their self-interest.
      Obama as President is the most inspiring event in American history since 1980! U can call it revisionist if u wish.

  10. Let me take another moment to address the measured success of Teach for America recruits when compared to regular staff in high schools.(as opposed to evaluations in grades 4 and 8) I think it might have something to do with the fact that the worst abused and neglected students drop out at age 16, so that the hardest cases are gone by high school. Young people by nature are usually optimistic and hopeful, and in this society with its false “success ethic” they can easily be strung along by some trust fund baby to get their math and English up to test levels even when their cause is futile and their ultimate destiny is the Chick Fillet fryer, the Target pricing room, or the gun turret in Afghanistan. Test scores are meaningless when the major demand is for drones to man the dead end and predatory occupations that abound. Our empire is doomed because it has become anachronistic as its beneficiaries resist needed change in order to maintain their economic advantages. Notice how ignorant South Carolina recently suspended corporate taxes to attract exploitative and polluting businesses to the detriment of their marginal human services and educational system. They rob the poorest to reward the wealthiest and most influential. Can our state be far behind? CMS is examining closures of schools and more layoffs. Who benefits? In the long run, almost no one, just a few of our worst rich and corporate citizens.

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