Board should reject Teach for America

On Nov. 6, Katie Campos presented to the Buffalo Board of Education on using graduates from Teach for America to educate some of our most challenging children. TFA, a corporate-funded organization, recruits young and enthusiastic individuals to teach in poor urban schools, after being provided only brief training, sometimes limited to just five weeks in a particular certification area. They enter some of the most challenging public school classrooms without certification and are expected to fulfill only a two-year commitment. Studies show that most TFA teachers leave after their two-year commitment or shortly after. In addition, several studies have shown that TFA has not been the miraculous answer to educating poor urban students and has not fulfilled its main objective of closing the achievement gap between low- and high-income groups and between different racial groups.

Most should be surprised that Campos, an outspoken advocate for better teaching, who played an integral role in developing the new teacher evaluation system as secretary of education for New York State, would haphazardly put her faith in this initiative. But Campos, who has no known training and experience in education, is a former member of Democrats for Education Reform and founder of Buffalo ReformED, both corporate-backed organizations known for promoting unproven education reforms.

Teach for America is just another illusionary reform that will not address the complexity of poverty and its impact on child development and achievement. Our students in poverty are faced with much instability and uncertainty. They do not need to experience an unprepared teacher, who is not committed to the teaching profession long term. I urge the Buffalo Board of Education to wisely vote no on allowing TFA teachers in our schools.

Larry Scott

School Psychologist