Gary’s TFA – It May Already Be Out There

Gary Rubinstein has followed up his previous condemning critique of TFA with a plan for how he would fix it. He calls for greater rigor in new teacher preparation and an emphasis on long-term teaching.  Here is my response in the comment thread:

Thanks to your posts over the last few months, I have been also applying to alternatives to TFA, while continuing with the TFA application path as well.

I’ve found some incredible programs, many of which are doing what you think needs to be done, though on a smaller scale than TFA (and hence without the massive PR, so its harder to hear about them). But if you look, you will find…

Top of my list is the Boston Teacher Residency ( A one-year immersive masters in education program is followed by a three-year commitment to Boston Public Schools. The masters program includes four days a week of student teacher during the school year, and two summers on either end of full-time coursework at UMass. If I get accepted to this, I will definitely go over TFA.

There’s an alliance of such programs at I’ve found most of the others fall somewhere in between TFA and BTR on the preparatory rigor scale, but there are so many alternative options. If you are interested in TFA for the right reasons, as I think I am, then take a look at these other programs too… maybe TFA will be right for you, maybe not. But its not the only structured alternative cert pathway out there, especially for career-changing professionals. As these residency models gain more exposure, TFA will have competition for the national stage in education reform teaching entry programs, and that may be all that is required to prompt change.

on November 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

I think Gary is right on to be concerned about these issues, and so should anyone not solely interested in short-term, band-aid solutions. The problem cannot be improved by throwing untrained idealists into classrooms who put in a couple of years to say they did their time in the trenches, and then wash their hands of it.

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