Diane\'s Blog

Gary Rubinstein

Dear Prof. Ravitch,

I’ve been a big fan of yours ever since I first read Left Back about ten years ago. I’m also a nineteen year teaching veteran and a disgruntled 1991 TFA alum. Like many people who have gone through TFAs training, I had a very rough first year. Fortunately I figured out how to be successful and kept teaching beyond my commitment. I’ve taught for thirteen of the past nineteen years and am currently a teacher at Stuyvesant High School. I’ve also had two books published, neither of which is on any kind of TFA recommended reading list. The first is an honest account of my first year called “Reluctant Disciplinarian” and the other is a practical guidebook for new secondary teachers.

I’ve been a pretty outspoken critic of TFA, particularly with regard to their training. I used to present a workshop at the institute trying to fill in the gaps and present a more realistic picture than they do. Eventually TFA decided they’d rather the new members don’t hear about my experiences since the truth might have been a bit too negative. Finally, I’ve gotten my ideas heard by most of the new members through a blog on the teachforus.org website. Currently, I’m one of the most read blogs on the site with my posts critiquing various TFA books, policies, and philosophies. I think the post that you would like the best is one titled “Why Two Years?” where I locate Wendy Kopp’s original thesis to look for clues for why they went with two years rather than more.

I’ve made a category of “favorites” with the best of the posts.

Whether or not you have a chance to look at some of these posts, I wanted to thank you for being a sane voice in the current discussion at this pivotal time. Your recent posts about the absurdity of closing schools in New York City was so clear and powerful, it’s hard to imagine that anyone who read it wouldn’t have the sense knocked back into them.

Gary Rubinstein