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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What a great idea!

Loved reading about the new Arkansas Teacher Corps in this morning's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (there's a paywall).

It's Teach for America with improvements.

True, everyone loves TFA's contributions to schools and students -- especially in those areas of the state that have a difficult time attracting licensed teachers.

But, many folks also point out that relatively few of TFA's bright, young teachers remain in the classroom after their two-year stints. While the lauded teaching program is an opportunity for recent college grads to "give back,"  it often proves a short-lived stepping stone to the rest of their lives.

That leads to high turnover for districts. And, it took up a teaching slot that might have been filled by an individual who wanted to devote his or her live to educating students. TFA can be costly, too, with fees paid to the program in addition to the teachers' salaries.

The focus of the Arkansas Teacher Corps, on the other hand, seems to be to attract these same bright, energetic, enthusiastic college graduates to the classroom so they can stay there. 

As the dean of the UA College of Education and Health Professions told the newspaper about the program, "We're identifying and recruiting young adults who are extremely capable, extremely bright, who didn't necessarily think they wanted to be a teacher when they started to college, but at the end of their college careers are looking for different opportunities."

One corps member interviewed has a doctorate in chemical engineering; one was a pre-med major and yet another graduated second in his class with an English degree. All now say they are committed to careers as educators.

What's more, schools pay salaries, but no fees.

Gotta say it again. What a great idea!

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