What Relay is doing largely breaks the mold. Its students are full-time elementary and middle-school teachers, almost all of them fresh out of college, almost none of them with a traditional teaching degree.
June Kronholz, Education Next
At the University of Memphis there are professors disturbed about a rather secret plan, one that college officials hatched last January, but professors didn’t learn about until October, that will be foisted on the College of Education. The Faculty Senate is perplexed. I try to make sense of it.
- It is a private program that will be run in a public university.
- Univ. of Memphis President Rudd told faculty they could make suggestions just “as long they understand the donors are committed to a separate program.” In other words, it is a done deal.
- Funders include the Hyde Family Foundation and Pyramid Peak.
- Rudd will give the traditional teacher education school funding for a recruiter of their own, giving the appearance these programs will be competing.
- The same officials are still holding back on additional details since they don’t want anyone knowing more about the program until it is approved.
- There will be 11 mystery masters degrees offered using all adjuncts.
- We know the application is 448 pages long and 40% of the program will be online.
- It is said to be an attempt to solve a staffing problem in the 59 schools in Shelby County.
- President Rudd likened the program to “studying abroad.”
- They claim this will grow both programs.
- The traditional teacher program is already nationally ranked.
- They claim the alternative groups (those who teach without teaching degrees) do better than those with traditional degrees. This research is questionable.
- The program is an effort to make Memphis into a Teacher Town. Teacher Town has a portfolio director.
- You can be pretty sure the new program focuses on high-stakes testing, data collection and, of course, Common Core.
- Direct instruction and teaching scripted material will most likely be emphasized.
- Initially they want to turn out 50 teachers a year. In five years they hope to have 200-225 teachers working in high-needs schools.
- The new program will cost students $35,000 and start in a student’s junior year of college.
- It will be run by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) and the Relay Graduate School of Education.
- Those who complete a one-year teacher training residency in a high-need school, teaching like they are already teachers, would be guaranteed early job offers.
- Students must commit to teaching three years in a high-needs school.
- Philanthropists are putting up $24 million for the new program but they are anonymous for now.
- Many teacher ed. schools including the Univ. of Memphis now require Pearson’s controversial edTPA, which is another example of requiring a for-profit program to make teachers appear to be better qualified. Many question its relevancy.
- There appears to be an effort across the country to make it more difficult for teachers in regular teacher prep to graduate like Georgia. HERE.
TNTP , which has in its title Reimagine Teaching, was started by Michelle Rhee (we all know how much she loves teachers and public schools) and has focused on changing the way urban districts recruit, train and hire new teachers. In 2000, our highly-selective Teaching Fellows and TNTP Academy programs began preparing professionals without a traditional education background to become effective teachers for high-need schools. Make no mistake, they are proud that their people do not learn anything about children or teaching the old fashion way.
The Relay Graduate School of Education follows the same pattern and was started in New York City by Teacher U which launched in 2008 by the charters Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First. It uses words like “systematic” and “alignment.” You could say Hunter College’s Graduate School of Education at the City University of New York opened the door to this quasi-“blind leading the blind” faux teacher prep.
Relay’s Collaborators are:
- Teach for America
- The New Teacher Project
- Citizen Schools
And their investors include:
- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Carnegie Corporation of New York
- Credit Suisse
- Fund For Public Schools
- The Leona M. And Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust
- JP Morgan
- The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF)
- New Schools Venture Fund
- Robin Hood
The new “teacher training residency” claims to be for high needs school. The University of Arkansas already has a program like this, of course, UA is in Walton territory and they are huge proponents of school privatization.
I would say most university schools of education should watch for TNTP and Relay to come knocking on their doors. But don’t rest on the idea that this new teacher package will be just for the poor. While these alternative teaching programs may start out that way, experimenting around with hungry children, if you eventually dissolve teacher preparation as we know it, TNTP and Relay will wind up being the teacher programs for the way all teachers are made.
I truly believe this is the ultimate goal for today’s education reformers.
Roberts, Jane. “New Teacher Training Program Under Consideration at University of Memphis. The Commercial Appeal. November 23, 2014.
Roberts, Jane. U of M “Plans for Competing Teacher Training Model Come into Focus. The Commercial Appeal. October 16, 2014.