Lessons to Learn

Overview

This is the inside story of the more than 8,000 recent college graduates who have joined Teach for America and committed two years of service to teaching in the nation's most troubled public schools. In the tradition of books by Studs Terkel, Ness combines interviews and essays from TFA members and alumni as well as principals, superintendents, parents, and noted education experts.

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Lessons to Learn: Voices from the Front Lines of Teach for America

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Overview

This is the inside story of the more than 8,000 recent college graduates who have joined Teach for America and committed two years of service to teaching in the nation's most troubled public schools. In the tradition of books by Studs Terkel, Ness combines interviews and essays from TFA members and alumni as well as principals, superintendents, parents, and noted education experts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ness, who taught for two years in the Teach for America program in Oakland, Calif., surveyed 154 other alumni about their experiences in the program. Founded in 1989 by Princeton student Wendy Kopp, the program recruits college graduates from a variety of fields. Recruits are given only a five-week training program before being sent to work for two years in some of the nation's worst classrooms. Ness organizes her survey responses around the recruit's life cycle: training, job placement and career choice after the program. While there's controversy over the adequacy of the training, almost all the interviewees report satisfaction with some or all aspects of their teaching experience. They believe they've enriched the lives of children and communities, gained new insights into the problems of poverty and renewed their faith in the potential for social change through education. While some 40% of alums remained classroom teachers after their two-year stint, and 20% went on to careers in educational leadership (e.g., founding schools, directing educational policy), others used the experience to move into other social action careers (e.g., law, medicine and public office). While the education establishment still eyes these uncredentialed young teachers with some skepticism, "their raw intelligence, their content knowledge, and their passion" can often make up for their lack of pedagogical training. It's not a perfect program, Ness concedes, but it does do good and necessary work. Although the book suffers from frequent ungainly prose and is often repetitive, it's an affirmation of Teach for America's importance. Agent, Ted Weinstein. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
When Princeton senior Wendy Kopp learned that 70 percent of inner-city fourth graders couldn't read at a basic level, she decided to address that problem. In 1989, she raised funds from industry leaders, launching her vision by sending 2500 recent college graduates out into the nation's poorest schools to serve two-year teaching stints. In 1994 Teach for America (TFA) was brought in under the Americorps umbrella, receiving federal funds to bolster its private grants. Because TFA teachers are not required to have completed any education course work (they receive a five-week summer training offered by TFA), some researchers have found fault with TFA as a program that detracts from the professionalism of the field of teaching as well as from the need to find long-term solutions (such as higher pay and status for teachers) to the problems of staffing in low-income neighborhood schools. Ness, a former TFA teacher herself, weaves together a narrative of voices from over 150 current and former TFA participants. Her thorough analysis of the program highlights its merits as well as its weaknesses, offering a concise and thought-provoking look at this idealistic and entrepreneurial response to a core national problem. Recommended for public and academic libraries.-Jean Caspers, Linfield Coll. Lib., McMinnville, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415945905
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Molly Ness is a Teach for America alumna and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of The Johns Hopkins University. While teaching at Roosevelt Middle School in Oakland, California, she was the recipient of the Jean Wilson Scholarship to the 2000 California Conference for Educational Leadership. She lives in Charlottesville.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Author's Note
Ch. 1 The birth of a vision 1
Ch. 2 Making the commitment 13
Ch. 3 The summer institute 29
Ch. 4 Raw realities 51
Ch. 5 Initial impressions 67
Ch. 6 No magic recipe 83
Ch. 7 Outside the classroom 107
Ch. 8 Two plus years 127
Ch. 9 Life after teach for america 157
Ch. 10 The more you teach, the more you learn 179
Ch. 11 One day: the road ahead for teach for america 197
Afterword 219
Selected bibliography 229
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