…another Educontroversy erupts! Late last week longtime Teach For America critic Linda Darling-Hammond released a new study (pdf) about TFA teachers at the American Educational Research Association’s meeting in Montreal. In the spirit of the setting, TFA detractors gleefully pointed to the study saying “oui! oui! we knew TFA was very bad…”
Because it was released first to the press, before TFA had even seen it, TFA supporters were naturally suspicious. As it turns out, they had ample reason. This letter from TFA’s Abigail Smith outlines the preliminary problems with the study. Unfortunately, though these are serious issues, they haven’t stopped either the yapping of critics or some press accounts which could presumably be damaging to TFA’s fundraising and recruitment efforts (a cynic might say that was the point of this whole exercise… but you’ll find no cynics here!).
Here’s U of W’s newly engaged (hearts are breaking around edupolicy land…) and very diplomatic Dan Goldhaber from the Houston Chronicle (pdf):
The way the information is presented is not standard,” he said. “If you were to submit this to an academic journal for review, they would demand more information about … the results than what is currently in the paper.”
Look for some spirited back and forth. Hopefully though, problematic methodology aside, some intrepid reporter will take a look at the broader question, why all the attacks on TFA anyway?
See also TFA founder Wendy Kopp here, USA Today here. The Kopp piece is noteworthy, she’s previously kept a low profile on this stuff, perhaps enough is enough? And, background on the recent Mathematica study on TFA here.