My husband is an accounting professor. Two weeks ago he received a perky email from Anh-Thi Mouradav out of Nashville’s The New Teacher Project (TNTP) Teaching Fellows looking for him to forward her email request to accounting students who would make, in her words, “highly-effective math teachers.” He was quick to reply telling her that it is a very mistaken notion that a degree in accounting makes you a good math teacher.
For anyone who has forgotten, TNTP is Michelle Rhee’s baby from before her DC Chancellor years, although some say it is really Wendy Kopp’s baby. I don’t care whose baby it is, it is one baby I don’t like. Teaching Fellows are just like Teach for America (TFA), only you don’t have to be fresh out of college. TNTP kicks out the local school district’s personnel department (oh they might stick around) and then they take charge mostly hiring their own.
I guess they are satisfied with accounting majors teaching math and middle school. Most of them were never real teachers either.
I posted something about this accounting/math email on Facebook and had several interesting and well-received responses. All of the commenters, including the daughter of an accountant, a degreed math expert and a professor who has written a book about Teach For America, understood, like my husband, that accounting degrees, while good for doing accounting, do not automatically make good math teachers.
I figured my husband’s response to Ms. Anh-Thi taught her a thing or two. And, if nothing else, at least she would give some thought to approaching those out of a field for particular fast track teaching assignments.
Au contraire. Several days later my husband got a second email from her which shows that when TNTP recruiters recruit anything goes.
Thank you very much for your response. Our program has a great training for those interested in teaching math but did not major in mathematics – we call that track “Math Immersion”. In addition to training in teaching fundamentals and techniques, Math Immersion also provides additional help and support in math content knowledge. We have found in the past that several of our Fellows with accounting backgrounds have the logical thinking that helps make them successful math teachers in the classroom.
If there are accounting students interested in teaching but perhaps in another subject area, we do also provide another option that may be of interest to them: middle school general content.
Would you still be willing to forward along our program information to you graduating students?
Many thanks in advance for your time.
Teaching Fellows Programs
No! will still be his answer. The New Teacher Project, now found in almost every big city in the country, is sure to run over whatever career teachers are left standing. And school districts who don’t want to pay teachers gladly hand them the power to make the school personnel decisions having to do with teachers.
Math Immersion? Do any of us really know what Teaching Fellows (like TFA) are taught? Who are the great teachers who teach them what they need in five weeks? Other Fellows? TFA? Or do they have one real teacher teaching hundreds of them all at once online across the country? I’d like to know.
What I do know, is that these Fellows, like TFA, can often be found in schools, running to get help from the career teacher whom they probably will eventually replace.
And it is interesting that those who slam teachers or real education schools, because they don’t think teachers get enough content preparation, don’t seem to fuss about speed training in these fast track teacher programs.
I know for a fact that many parents are very worried about the kind of mathematics instruction their children are getting. How well-prepared are math teachers these days?
I also have to laugh at Ms. Mouradav’s reference to teaching middle school content…another area she seems to think you can slide into quickly and easily, I’m assuming with five weeks of Middle School Immersion.
Yet, middle school is one of the most challenging developmental periods in schooling. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, and it demands much study and understanding—certainly a crash course won’t do it.
Years ago many states began demanding middle school credentials—special coursework and extra time dedicated to understanding this important grade level. What happened there?
Did I add that Teach for America and Teaching Fellows have decided they can be teachers in special education? I think this has been happening all along, but now they advertise it. Don’t believe the shortage talk. This is another concerted effort to replace career teachers.
They are emboldened.
They know the corporate know-it-alls adore them and will throw a few million their way in every city across the country—along with millions of our tax dollars. School district leaders will shed phony tears on the nightly news about being forced to lay off career teachers while they are concurrently, eagerly holding job fairs for TFA and Teaching Fellows down the street.
But unfortunately, for our students, and the good old USA, the simple fact remains—accounting students are just not math teachers in five weeks. They aren’t middle school teachers either—or special educators.
What should parents do?
It’s simple. Ask your children’s teachers where they went to school. Ask them about their degrees. Are they real teachers? Do their degrees match the subject they are teaching?
Ask your principals how many teachers in the school have degrees in the subjects they are teaching. Don’t be shy. Put them on the spot and start demanding real credentialed teachers!
And you real career teachers—get out your sheepskin/s and hang them on the walls. Let parents know who you are and where you came from.
My husband wondered what he should say to Ms. Anh-Thi besides telling her he still would not recommend their program to his students. I told him to send her a copy of my post even though I doubt she will Tweet it.