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It’s Tuesday, let’s go to the mailbag! Per this post a reader writes:

To be fair, this is not just a union problem. At the last school at which I taught in NYC, teachers get/got letters from the administration threatening to dock pay if they worked too late (past 5pm). Yes. Threatening to dock pay. Something like $100 each time.

(The given reason was that the custodians had to lock up the school, they couldn’t do that while anyone was still there, and if they had to stay late because a teacher was working late, the teacher would have to pay for their additional time.)

Per recent Teach For America news, two notes:

Here’s my little story about TFA and putting teachers in underserved areas….I am a recently accepted TFA corps member. I’ll be teaching high school English in [redacted at writer’s request] in the fall.

I got a call yesterday from the guy who interviewed me. I asked him how many of the people with whom I interviewed were accepted. He couldn’t quote specific numbers for my day, but overall, less than a third of the people he interviewed were accepted.

I’m new to all of this TFA stuff, but I was impressed with the other people who interviewed with me. I know what most ed college graduates are like, and I’drather have my kid taught by one of the people who interviewed with me. What’s more, most of the people who interviewed with me planned to teach in an underserved area regardless of whether they were accepted to TFA (in many cases, areas that are alreadyserved by TFA–New Orleans and Baton Rouge). Given the teacher shortage in those areas, I doubt they’ll have a problem getting in.

For students next year in underserved areas in Louisiana, the only difference in their rookie teachers with emergency certification or TFA will be that some have taken a crash course in pedagogy and also whatever the state of Louisiana requires in additionto having access to an independent support network. The others will have just gone through whatever Louisiana requires. I’m glad those people with whom I interviewed are going to teach. BR and NO need them.

My problem is the dream world in which some of these critics seem to be living. It seems to me they’d like to kill all of the chickens themselves instead of hunting the fox.

Another reader writes:

Thanks for raising the issue (April 18 Eduwonk) of why Teach For America is facing so many attacks. I spent two years (2001-2003) teaching middle school in the Arkansas Delta. It is crucial that people discussing these issues realize that the schools where TFA places GENERALLY HAVE NO OTHER TEACHERS. During my first year, I spent most of my day teaching French to students who did not need certain remediation and therefore had opportunity to be challenged in new ways through foreign language and culture studies. Who knows what they would have done otherwise.

Another corps member at my school spent her second year teaching math to the entire sixth grade and seeing them make significant progress. The next year, that group of students went through a series of seventh grade math teachers and substitutes. It is completely unrealistic to suggest that schools should keep out a hardworking TFA corps member who pushes kids to higher achievement for two years simply because that teacher hasn’t completed an “ideal” level of preparation or may not stay for many years. TFA does an outstanding job of motivating, preparing, and supporting corps members to teach well for at least two years and, whether they remain in that classroom or not, to continue impacting precious children who deserve the best.

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