U of M to develop new program for Teach for America corps

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The University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development has agreed to create a controversial eight-week teacher training program for Teach for America (TFA) corps members.

Under the 2011 Minnesota Alternative Teacher Licensure Law, the program will be submitted for approval to the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Corp members who successfully complete the program will be recommended for state licensure, as well as university credits.

TFA has galvanized opposition from teachers who were required to undergo years of training and support from those looking to reform education in Minnesota, the Star Tribune said.

Opponents of the partnership argue TFA sends underprepared teachers into classrooms at the expense of students.

U of M graduate students say the new program will cheapen the university's traditional teacher prep programs, the Pioneer Press reports.

“Basically they are creating two tiers of teachers with this partnership,” Erin Dyke, a University of Minnesota doctoral student, told the Star Tribune. "One serves the elite few who are guaranteed a job after five weeks of training and another who will spend thousands of dollars getting an education, who will study for years and have no guarantee of a job."

Earlier this summer, grad students and alumni urged colleagues to refuse to mentor all student teachers from the university if the agreement goes through, according to the Pioneer Press.

The state's teachers union, Education Minnesota, is also strongly opposed to the idea, Minnesota Public Radio reported in August.

"We believe that college students who want to be teachers are best prepared for and supported in their development as teachers through CEHD’s multiple comprehensive programs," Deborah Dillon, CEHD associate dean, said in a news release. "However, we recognize that individuals with bachelor’s degrees who want to work with P-12 learners have the right to alternative options like TFA under state law."

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