by David Safier
I wrote a longish post Tuesday about the possibility that Teach for America (TFA) will set up a program in the Sunnyside School District. I still don't have official confirmation for the story, but I haven't heard any denials either. As I wrote in the earlier post, the information, though not official, is well enough sourced that I'm reasonably certain some kind of a deal is in the works between Arizona's Ed Supe John Huppenthal and Sunnyside Supe Manuel Isquierdo.
Here's where this gets a little more interesting. Sunnyside has a recall election coming up in May which, in a sense, is a referendum on Isquierdo and his policies, since the two board members whose seats are on the line vote with the superintendent, giving him a 3-2 majority. If either of them loses, the majority will shift. The question is, will Isquierdo try to push a vote on the Teach for America issue with the current board at, say, the April meeting where he's likely to get a favorable vote, or will he wait to see how the recall turns out before deciding an issue which will have a significant impact on the district?
Here's a much-too-short description of Teach for America: It's a national program that gives college graduates a five week summer boot camp in education, then sends them out to teach in some of the most challenging schools in the country. They sign up for two years, often as a break between college and their "real job" and as a way to bolster their resumes. Many end up quitting before the two years are up, finding the job of teaching 30 to 40 hard-to-reach children is far more difficult than they imagined, especially with little educational background or training.
If you go back and read my earlier post which has more information on TFA, be sure to check out the Comments from readers, some of which are more interesting than what I wrote. The longest, most detailed comment is from someone who was part of TFA and is now a high school teacher in Marana. Also interesting, and surprising to me, is that no one has defended Teach For America in the Comments section.