Bruno: Teaching English Learners Is Hard For *Everybody* (Not Just TfA)
Almost one quarter of California's students are English learners, so losing that certification would seriously impact TfA's ability to staff schools in the state.
The crux of the issue for Cody is that it's doubtful that "Teach for America's five week summer training adequately prepare[s] its interns for the challenges" they will face in the classroom in general and as teachers of English learners in particular.
I agree with him that TfA's preparation regimen is probably inadequate. I've known and worked with some extremely impressive TfA corps members, but they all struggled significantly and had major complaints about their training.
As is so often the case, however, it's worth asking, "Compared to what?"
Cody makes much of the relative brevity of TfA training, but the existing evidence does not suggest that in general Teach for America teachers are significantly less effective than other teachers. Some studies suggest they may be more effective.
If there is research about the effectiveness of TfA teachers on English learners in particular I'm not aware of it, but I think it's also possible to make too much of additional certification requirements imposed on traditional training programs by the state.
It's true, as Cody points out, that California has for years "required attending a special course" on teaching English learners, but it's an open question whether that coursework is valuable in the field.
Indeed, I earned my EL certification through the aforementioned coursework requirement, but found it to be mostly useless as a new teacher. While ostensibly about teaching English learners effectively, the class was in fact mostly about issues of "social justice"; teaching was discussed only occasionally and English learners as such almost never.
There is undoubtedly variation between credentialing programs, and some may adequately prepare their teachers for the challenges of teaching English learners.
I'm agnostic, however, on whether requiring intern teachers to jump through these particular regulatory hoops will do much to improve their EL instruction. After all, when it comes to teaching English learners traditional certification is often pretty inadequate, too. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)