One of the biggest problems that we face in education today is the seemingly endless quest to elevate the teaching profession. Back in 1989, Wendy Kopp had a vision of taking gifted college students who weren't education majors, but wanted to teach and sending them out to learn how to teach on our country's neediest children. The result has been Teach for America and one need only watch a talk show or listen to musicians like Common and John Legend to know what a success it has become.
Unfortunately, 23 years later, Teach for America feels like a relic of an earlier time. Things like smart phones, the internet, and HDTV didn't exist in 1989. In today's cyber age, gifted young people don't want to wait through a laborious five week training period and then commit to a two year teaching period. You only have to wait 48 hours to get a gun, why should you have to wait five weeks to be a teacher. If I am a brilliant young college student with so much to offer students, I want to do it now. In five weeks I may well be onto something else. For that matter, the two year commitment seems extremely archaic. When you think about it, two years is the length of time Russell Brand was married to Katy Perry plus the length of time Kim Khardashian was married to Kris Humphries plus the length of time it would take to stream the new Bear in Heaven album in its super slowed down speed at http://bearinheaven.com. In other words, 2 years is forever.
If we are serious about really elevating the profession by taking it out of the hands of professional educators, we need a new teach for America. We need a program where if you decide you have a calling to teach on Friday, we can give you an intense training session over the weekend and have you in front of students on Monday. Rather than a 2 year commitment, we would only ask that you teach for one semester. Think about it, in less than six months, a gifted student could become a teacher, impact children's lives, and move onto being a professional education reformer. Last Stand for Children First believes it is time for this new breed of teacher to elevate the classroom.
We are calling our program Strategic Teacher Recruitment In Poverty Endangered Schools or STRIPES. It is our goal to have the first 50 STRIPES in classrooms in time for the second semester of this school year. Teaching sounds like a lot to learn in one weekend, but if anybody can do it, I believe the proud members of STRIPES will be able to because we will recruit them from only the most elite students at only the most elite schools. If anybody can reach students living in poverty, it will be them.