Teach for America has developed two new pilot programs. Within the new cohort of recruits, there will be a subset engaged in a year-long preparation, including more classroom experience, the study of "learning theories," "practical pedagogy (personally, I prefer the impractical!) and "cultural competency work." I hate to say it, but I'm not sure how one would teach cultural competency in a year without degenerating into stereotyping, especially given that some schools are veritable United Nations of education. Let us hope that I am misunderstanding the term.
The second pilot program aims to extend the average recruit survival rates at original placements past the typical two-to-three year period by offering more T.F.A. support. In addition, the organization is decentralizing, allowing for a new age of experimentation. Off hand, this seems positive. In my mind, just about anything beats five-weeks of T.F.A. training. I can hardly wait though to see all the data that's run on the guinea pigs, I mean, recruits and their students.
Since the new year-long training program only applies to a subset of the cohort, it looks like most T.F.A. recruits will still move into the classroom after a mere five weeks of training. I wonder if any of the subset with the year-long prep will envy those given the five-week treatment. For those adverse to the longer training or those who find five-week training attractive, but not for the T.F.A., I would like to offer five alternatives.
1. Lion Tame for America, or L.T.F.A.: With just five-weeks of training, you'll become a full-fledged lion whisperer, ready to walk right into the den and stick your head fearlessly into the carnivore's mouth. As a L.T.F.A. recruit, you will be sent to any one of a number of circuses throughout the country to entertain children and their families. Please note that lion taming is not equivalent to the domestication of a species and that your term may be short lived.
2. Navy SEALs for America, or N.S.F.A: You will become a member of an elite cadre of special-forces operatives. You will learn the fine art of covert reconnaissance, amphibious maneuvers and underwater demolition of highly explosive materials, among other things. You will find yourself equally at home in your training in the air, on the land and in the water. You will learn to live every moment like it may be your last. All this and more will be yours with just five-weeks of training. What better way to patriotically serve your country? Never has the training been so short and the gains so many, surely not even in the T.F.A.
3. Puffer Fish Chefs for America, or P.F.C.F.A.: You will spend five weeks learning how to prepare fugu chiri and sashimi fugu, delicacies derived from the puffer fish, in kitchens across America. You will work with the best puffer-fish chefs now living. You will learn how to taste whether your creations are properly or improperly prepared and eat like there's no tomorrow!
4. Young Pinkertons for America, or Y.P.F.A.: Why hide the fact that school districts lay off unionized workers to higher young T.F.A. kids as scabs? Why hide the fact that you're a poster-child for charters that squeeze public-schools into oblivion? You can have all the training you need for this job in just five weeks, plus the satisfaction of knowing you are saving corporate millionaires a load of money through your cheap labor. (This position is best suited for recent college graduates with no family to support, planning to live at home with their parents for an indefinite period of time).
5. Psychosurgeons for America, or P.S.F.A.: In five weeks, you will learn how to perform lobotomies upon people in severe need of psychiatric help, including many teachers in this new era of educational deformity. This neurological procedure sometimes known as leucotomy involves precision cutting or scraping of parts of the frontal lobe of the brain in the hopes to rid patients of delusions (including the belief that APPRs will be used to close schools and replace their teaching body with T.F.A. scabs), excessive nervousness (owing, perhaps, to a new evaluation procedure) and obsessions (not including obsessions with data). Put your brain to it for five weeks and then you'll be saying, "scalpel, please"!