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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Mantra of the corporate reformers: 'Teachers Wanted -- No Experience Necessary'

Noel Price teaching a class at YES Prep. Throughout YES Prep’s 13 schools, teachers have an average of two and a half years of experience. (NYT)

From the Times to Edweek, it seems like planted stories abound, hailing the coming of the new prototype teacher. You know, she's the one "most difficult to pick from of the group of students surrounding her", writes Edweek's Alexis Lambrau, about the subject of her photo shoot, Ferrin Bujan, a 24-year old teacher at the Brooklyn Community Arts & Media High School.
She often feels like student test scores are all that matter in her district. Yet she has students who rarely show up to class, and their scores still factor against her. This is particularly difficult given that Bujan is up for tenure this year, a process that involves an increasingly rigorous application process. She feels pressure to do well by her principal. “It’s hard. The city wants so much and they give you so little,” she said. 
The Times carries a similar piece about young TFAers, 5-week wonders now filling the ranks of the charter schools. I call them "drive-by" teachers who are expected to to have "short careers by choice".
Tyler Dowdy just started his third year of teaching at YES Prep West, a charter school here. He figures now is a good time to explore his next step, including applying for a supervisory position at the school.
Yes, the goal is get out of the classroom as soon as possible and into a "real job."
Charter leaders say they are able to sustain rapid turnover in teaching staff because they prepare young recruits and coach them as they progress. At YES Prep, new teachers go through two and a half weeks of training over the summer, learning common disciplinary methods and working with curriculum coordinators to plan lessons.
As you might expect, you won't find a preponderance of  these "no experience necessary" prototype teachers in wealthy, white suburban districts.

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