Alt-Route Bogeymen

Professors with grievances about education reform have had a star turn lately. The other week featured Catherine Michna on Slate, panning Teach For America, and Kenneth Zeichner on The Washington Post, hacking away at the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act. 

TFA’s Justin Fong and Benjamin Riley of New Schools Venture Fund have already offered thorough, thoughtful rebuttals, which I highly recommend reading. Rather than add to their critiques, I’ll just say this:

No one claims that alternative certification programs are perfect (certainly not us).There are plenty of good, productive debates to be had about how to prepare teachers more effectively and ensure all students have access to great teachers, and those debates would benefit from more voices and a wider range of perspectives. But maligning a whole generation of young Americans who have turned down more lucrative opportunities in favor of teaching and educational improvement (as Michna does) or fabricating shadowy conspiracy theories (as Zeichner does) contributes nothing to that conversation.

To the contrary, articles like these damage that urgent discussion by willfully spreading misinformation and conjuring bogeymen to distract us from the real issues. If they are not willful in doing so, then they’re sloppy. Either way, we should all expect better.

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, stands in front of her students while introducing them to the captivating world of science

Imali Ariyarathne, seventh-grade teacher at Langston Hughes Academy, introduces her students to the captivating world of science.

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