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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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When Will Teach for America Teachers Shake the "Savior" Stereotype?

Ohio governor John Kasich offensively calls TFA corps members the "calvary". What gives with the persistent stereotype?


Here's one image problem that Teach For America can't seem to shake: TFA teachers as saviors. The stereotype of their teachers (called corps members) as the great hope coming to save poor students of color from lazy, regular teachers reared it's head again on Wednesday thanks to statements by Ohio governor John Kasich.

Kasich signed a bill that will allow TFA corps members to be hired by school districts in the state starting with the 2012-2013 school year. He called the bill a "landmark day for Ohio education" and clarified that allowing corps members to come to Ohio isn't an attempt to replace current classroom teachers. You may not agree with Kasich's point of view, but that's pretty benign as far as statements go. However, things went south when Kasich then referred to corps members as "the cavalry", saying

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