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Does Teach For America's Summer Institute Really Prepare Teachers for the Classroom?

Institute guru Susan Asiyanbi responds to some of the common critiques of the intensive process.


Over the next few weeks, 5,200 new Teach For America members will become first-year teachers in some of this nation’s most challenging school settings. In lieu of a traditional, year-long teacher preparation program, they just spent five weeks attending one of the organization's eight summer training institutes. That short time span makes the institute an intense experience, and critics say it can’t truly prepare corps members to teach.

The institutes are overseen by Susan Asiyanbi, Teach For America’s executive vice president for teacher preparation, support and development, who draws on her personal experience growing up on the South Side of Chicago and working as a corps member in Newark, New Jersey, as well her Kellogg M.B.A. We caught up with her to find out what the organization is doing to improve its training program, and got some answers to some of the common critiques of the process.

GOOD: What does a typical day at the institute look like for a corps member?

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America Cares About Buying Guns, Not Educating Kids

America is set to spend 20 percent of our federal budget on defense and a mere 3 percent on education.

In this year's State of the Union speech, President Obama called for a "Sputnik" movement in education, and asked our nation to do what's necessary "to give every child a chance to succeed" and compete with their international peers. Sadly, the latest federal spending bill includes more than $38 billion in cuts to K-12 and higher education programs. When you look at how much we're spending on defense, it's pretty clear: Our national priority isn't really education, it's buying guns and missiles.

Indeed, on Tuesday, our culture editor Cord wrote about Swedish-based think tank SIPRI's latest report, which details that since 2001, the United States' defense spending has increased 81 percent. And, we spend almost 43 percent of the money the entire world allocates to defense.

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