Feedback: Reader responses for proposed later last call, we get schooled in Detroit teaching certification

Wrong on TFA Certification

I read with interest Curt Guyette's recent article on the Education Achievement Authority ("EMU considers ending its association with the EAA") and wanted to correct the record regarding Teach For America and our teachers' work throughout Detroit. The article incorrectly mentions that our teachers lack certification. In fact, Michigan law requires that a person employed in an elementary or secondary school with instructional responsibilities holds a certificate, permit, or occupational authorization valid for the positions to which they are assigned. Our teachers are no different. In accordance with the law, our teachers hold an interim teaching certificate and are considered "highly qualified" under No Child Left Behind.

The article also incorrectly states that our teachers lack training. In addition to completing a rigorous training program prior to their first year of teaching, our teachers receive two years of formal in-service support and training from faculty at the University of Michigan and Oakland University, TFA instructional coaches, and their school and district leaders. As one of the most widely studied teacher preparation programs, we are encouraged that a growing body of independent research continues to show that that Teach For America teachers are having a positive impact on student achievement.

Teach For America is proud to have worked in partnership with Detroit's students, families, and veteran educators for the past five years, and we look forward to serving alongside them for many years to come. —Tiffany C. Taylor, executive director, Teach For America in Detroit

Curt Guyette Responds

Tiffany C. Taylor is correct in saying that there are different levels of certification. For example, there is what's called a "provisional teaching certificate," which, according to information posted online by the state, is "the initial teaching certificate is issued upon successful completion of a state-approved teacher preparation program and a passing score on the appropriate Michigan Test for Teacher Certification exams ..."

Ms. Taylor's interim certificate was obtained because she has a college degree and underwent five weeks of TFA training. If she stays on the job for three years, according to the posted information, she will only then become eligible to obtain the same sort of certificate granted qualified, newly graduated teachers with education degrees.

In regard to my statement about lack of training, I was referring specifically to the EAA using TFA teachers to create curriculum, a job usually reserved for educators with advanced degrees obtained after years of specialized coursework, not people with interim certificates still learning the very basics of teaching.

The problem isn't with TFA teachers as individuals. The ones I've interviewed as part of the ACLU of Michigan's investigation into the EAA have all been bright, idealistic, and sincere in their desire to help kids in struggling schools get an education. The issue is the EAA's heavy reliance on TFA in schools where the teaching challenge is the greatest and experienced, highly qualified educators are most needed. —Curt Guyette, investigative reporter, ACLU of Michigan

Our blog post about Lansing approving licenses for bars to stay open until 4 a.m. generated a lot of comment. Here's a sample ...

So we can drink until we're content as long as we're not gay?

Awww yeahhh. Never thought I'd say this, but, thank you. Republicans!

Are they trying to decrease the population. No helmets, 80 mph, and now this? What happened to saving us from ourselves?

It's gonna create lots of jobs: Bartenders and substance abuse counselors.

Since it is not every bar but downtown ones, cops know where to wait.

Michigan is its own worst enemy.

Hopefully the bartender doesn't refuse to serve you because of religious beliefs...what amazing bills that have passed this year *rolls eyes*

So they want to increase speed limits and let us drink almost 24/7? Nice.

Get wasted enough and you'll forget what fascist tools they are.

Now, if they just legalized pot, no one would want to go to the bar.

Sounds like they have their priorities in order. (Sarcasm.)

Worthless fucking legislature.

It was for the casinos. Most bars won't be able to afford $10,000 a year extra a year.

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