Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Work for America

Seems I've been reading a lot about Teach for America lately.  I had an awareness of the organization, but not a lot of knowledge.  From what I understand TFA was founded in part to meet the teacher shortage in the early 1990s, especially in urban, high poverty areas.  Corps members look to be high achievers who did not plan to go into education.

Interestingly, corps membership is growing despite roughly 300,000 teachers losing their jobs since 2009.  Even more interesting is that around 1/3 of TFA placements are being made in charter schools.  Folks are wondering if TFA has abandoned its purpose and become more of a business.

For the entrepeneurs out there I have an idea for you, although I'd like a percentage of any profits.

When I look at the job market and talk to local employers I see and hear that what is needed are folks with technical know engineers and the like.  In fact I spoke to an employer in the last week who had 330 applicants for a technical position, but not one qualified.

So if TFA can bring in college grads for a few weeks in the summer and train them to be teachers, why doesn't someone start Engineers for America.  Just scan presitigious colleges and universities for high achieving young adults who got a degree is something that isn't marketable and put them through a summer engineering training program.  They'll then be ready to go into companies across the country for a 2-year commitment.

Once their commitment is completed they will come back to work for EFA.  After a while they'll get a senior position at an engineering firm and shortly thereafter be able to lead the firm.  For those with political talents they can move into policy making, maybe even becoming Secretary of Defense.

But why stop at EFA, could we not do something similar for other career paths?  A larger Work for America organization could be the answer.  But doesn't that exist as a completely different entity?

I want a highly effective teacher in every classroom in the district.  So do our parents.  It's time the media and politicians stood behind the talented folks in our classrooms rather than demean them.  And we can't circle the wagons and shoot inward.

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