Response to ‘CEHD grad students oppose Teach For America partnership’

As an alumnus of both the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development and Teach For America, I find the recent petition from 10 graduate students in CEHD against a potential partnership with TFA troublesome. As a native Minnesotan and a proud graduate and current Ph.D. student of the University, I’m compelled to share why collaboration between TFA and CEHD is a logical choice for our state.

Many in our state pride themselves on our excellent K-12 education system.

While Minnesota is home to some of the highest performing schools in the nation, the unfortunate reality is that our current system is failing many of our children. Teacher preparation programs are in a position of great power to change the status quo and ensure more dedicated professionals are ready and committed to teach in our highest-need schools.

TFA and CEHD share a common goal — to provide all students with the best education possible. As the state’s flagship institution of learning, we should be seeking partnerships with community organizations like TFA to find ways to learn from each other, not isolating ourselves from approaches or ideas that may be different from our own. CEHD should not perceive collaboration with TFA as a threat to our school of education. A partnership would only strengthen our already strong learning environment by infusing our student body with diverse teachers from across the country passionate about fighting for educational equality.

We should lean on our University’s core values to share knowledge, understanding, and creativity by providing a broad range of educational programs in a strong and diverse community of learners and teachers. Our campus’ community should not perpetuate false divides in education and learning, such as traditional vs. alternatively prepared teachers. This type of dialogue only distracts us from making sure all of Minnesota’s children are reaching their full potential.

As an institution of academic research, CEHD should be interested in trying innovative alternative methods in teacher preparation to fuel continuous learning. A partnership between TFA and CEHD can be one part of the solution as we collectively work to strengthen the educational opportunities we’re providing all of our children.

Kevin Dorn

CEHD and Teach For America alumnus