Kentucky’s education crowd has inundated us with assertions that teachers salaries need to be increased before we can attract better teachers. Well, “Amazing Teacher Facts” from the Wall Street Journal (almost universally recognized as the WSJ) says that just isn’t so.
The WSJ reports that surprisingly high proportions of students from universities like Yale, Harvard and Georgetown (about one out of 10 from each college’s 2008 graduating class!) applied for Teach for America (TFA) entry level teaching jobs with starting salaries as low as $25,000.
These TFA applicants are smart – too smart to put up with the bureaucratic nonsense and mind numbingly un-intellectual courses found in traditional teacher preparation and certification programs. The TFA program bypasses the standard certification process with an alternative, fast-track certification program for college graduates with excellent subject matter expertise.
TFA teachers also have something else going for them – they know the course subject matter well – something we too often cannot say about conventionally trained teachers. You can’t teach a subject well if you don’t know it well.
The unions naturally hate TFA, charging it is just a “band aid” that doesn’t keep new teachers on board long enough to learn the trade. The WSJ doesn’t buy that, however. The WSJ reports those TFA-taught students perform significantly better on state exams than students from traditionally trained teachers’ classrooms do. Also, an amazingly high two-out-of-three TFA teachers STAY in the education world. They are not moving on to something else. That stands in sharp contrast to conventionally certified teachers who tend to leave the profession in very high numbers in the early teaching years.
Anyway, so much for the urban education legends we’re hearing in Kentucky. It’s not the pay, folks, it’s the nonsense that keeps our kids from getting the better educated teachers they need.