Teach For America's Model: Does It Need to Change?

A new petition says a five-week teacher training model does a disservice to children of color. Does the organization need to change more than that?

Last weekend, more than 11,000 Teach For America teachers and alumni descended on Washington, D.C., for the organization's 20th Anniversary Summit. I'm one of the alums who attended, and I had a fab time reconnecting with old friends and hearing from A-list education stars, like Geoffrey Canada and Michelle Rhee. But yesterday a fellow alumnae sent me a link to a petition that asks TFA to change the way it trains its teachers. It has me thinking: After 20 years in education reform, does the organization need to mix things up?

Central to the petition is the question of whether the predominantly low-income children of color taught by TFA teachers would be better off if those teachers had more training before they're put in front of a classroom. The petition asks TFA to expand its five-week summer training into a year-long "residency"—meaning that once accepted, a TFA teacher would spend a year apprenticing and learning the craft of teaching under the supervision of a mentor teacher.

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