U’s TFA program controversial

The controversial partnership between Teach For America and the University of Minnesota appears to be moving forward. The alternative program for granting teacher licenses will receive state approval in the coming weeks, the Minnesota Daily reported Wednesday.

Critics of programs like TFA say that they fast-track the process of becoming a legal, licensed teacher, accusing them of not adequately preparing educators for all the job entails. Others have said that many people who go through alternative licensure programs don’t want to make teaching a career and view the profession as a temporary gig.

Sure, there are flaws in some programs like TFA. They may really be too short to properly prepare new teachers. Or they may be used as a quick fix to curb an area’s teacher shortage. But these programs do have a place.

Perhaps Minnesota Board of Teaching member Erin Doan said it best when she told the Daily, “There is just a need for a program that meets the needs of working adults [and] career-changers who can’t afford to be without a paycheck.”

Going through the traditional route of licensing a teacher isn’t always a feasible or better option — there’s clearly a variety of prospective teachers who need an alternative.

But with critics creating roadblocks to any such plan, like the University-TFA partnership, there’s no opportunity for positive change. We welcome new, experimental alternative licensure programs and encourage critics to help develop alternative licensure tracks to improve them.