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For-Profit “Teachers of Tomorrow”: 100 Percent Online; No Actual Classroom Experience Until Hired. (Sigh.)

July 12, 2018

Teach for America (TFA), the ed reform org known for turning out temp teachers with minimal classroom experience, has some (growing?) competition.

Meet Teachers of Tomorrow, a for-profit that takes individuals with four-year college degrees in any area; charges them $300 to $400 up front (except for Michigan) for a “100% online” alternative teacher certification; calls the first year of paid teaching in front of a class of students an “internship” (see here and here, for example), and then takes roughly $4K to $5K from the teacher’s first-year pay once the Teacher of Tomorrow is employed (with Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow paying the most: $5,300 over 15 months).

Though Teachers of Tomorrow notes it has been around since 2005, the organization was not registered as a taxable entity in Texas (its current domicile) until 2016 and in Delaware until 2015.

Each Teacher of Tomorrow must pass some sort of state certification test.

Teachers of Tomorrow advertises that it “develops confident educators” because it “provide[s] the most comprehensive and innovative preparation to ensure our teachers are successful in their first year teaching”– without those teachers ever walking into a classroom prior to the first employed year.

Then there’s the “benefits of alternative certification,” including (wait for it…) *building a pipeline of qualified teachers.*

If I were on a hiring committee for my school, one of my first questions would be, “Where did you do your student teaching?” And I would expect a written reference from the teacher of record.

But some states are desperate (like Michigan), and some states are just so into market-based reform that surely a person with a college degree in anything (political science, psychology, textiles, computer animation…) is a capable and promising teacher, just so long as that person “believe[s] in the potential of every student.”

So far, Teachers of Tomorrow lists 11 states on its website (apparently New York once had some connection, as well, and the site indicates its start in New Jersey):

Many of those 11 states have their own links; however, there appear to be issues with the links to some states. (Reaching the Louisiana link was hit-and-miss for me on July 11, with the link often defaulting to the main page; Ohio and Utah defaulted to the main page.)

On its “company” page, Teachers of Tomorrow has a lack of information on all individuals running the show; only one individual has number of classroom years listed. Too, if one examines the contact page for Michigan, one sees two individuals’ pictures for “Michigan teachers staff”– and those two individuals are listed by first name only: Paige and Robert.

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Are “Paige” and “Robert” real? Who knows? No last names. No credentials. But we want your detailed info, prospective Michigan Teacher of Tomorrow, including your social security number, entered online, to some unknown entity. (Who has access? Paige? Robert?)

After examining the Teachers of Tomorrow website, I think this company is positioned to make a killing. The entire program is online. No on-site component, and even after a teacher is employed and paying that $4K – $5K, a “field supervisor” is involved, but there is no definite language indicating that this individual shows up in person.

According to its company page, Teachers of Tomorrow states that it “certified more than 7,000 hired teachers in 2016.” Even if one goes for the low end of $4K per hired teacher, Teachers of Tomorrow pulled $28M in 2016.

Let’s say that Teachers of Tomorrow only made $300 in initial cost for their program from those 7,000 teachers. That would be an additional $2.1M. And that’s only considering hired teachers. Teachers of Tomorrow makes collects its initial fee from all of its program students, whether those students finish or not.

Finally, the company page notes that Teachers of Tomorrow has “more than 45,000 hired teachers since inception.”

At $4K per hired teacher, that’s at least $180M for Teachers of Tomorrow since 2005 for 100 percent online alternative teacher certification. (Add $13.5M for a low-end-ball-park initial fee of $300 per each of those 45,000 hires.)

A hand-over-fist money bonanza for for-profit Teachers of Tomorrow, which means it must be good for students….

After all, it is a nice website….

shocked-dollar

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Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

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Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

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Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

8 Comments
  1. Laura H. Chapman permalink

    The company page is for a non profit. The officers are listed, few with credible backgrounds in education….but members of the advisory committee have had high profile administrative jobs in education, not great reputations but good on paper, but none in teacher education. The nonprofit and for profit dimensions of this marginal operation are hard to sort out.

  2. Threatened Out West permalink

    Utah has more certified teachers than it needs. But many of those certified teachers are not in education. Why?? Because Utah has one of the largest class sizes in the country, and the second-worst per pupil expenditures in the country. I have classes of 38 routinely (7th-9th grade), and some classes in my school (art, science) are actually larger. And Utah won’t regularly raise teacher salaries. So, now, Utah is going to pay out money it doesn’t have to get teachers it doesn’t need? SO disgusting.

    • In our district the money would be quickly spent not on teachers but on hiring more “evaluators,” specialists, coaches and consultants…consultants who would quickly turn around and say that the district should spend much money on organizations like Teachers Of Tomorrow.

      • Threatened Out West permalink

        In Utah, any extra money is spent on technology. EVERYWHERE. About a year ago, one of the Utah state senators actually complained that Utah teachers weren’t using technology or canned curriculums enough. Several major lobbyists are for tech companies. The former Speaker of the House’s husband was a tech lobbyist, and is now on the state school board.

    • I’m not trying to one-up anyone on the matter of class size, nut the Detroit Public Schools were bragging about their new “innovative early childhood model” last year: 90+ kindergarten students in one classroom, with 1 teacher, and no aides. We truly live in “interesting times.”

      • Threatened Out West permalink

        My district in Utah is doing a similar thing with kids in 1st and 2nd grades: 60-70 students, one teacher, and two aides, and the kids will be on computers way too much of the time. I feel for the kids in Michigan, and the kids in my district, subjected to this “learning.”

  3. Michigan Teachers of Tomorrow has 2 employees:

    Paige Saltzman is the office manager, but is still based in Houston where the HQ is–her longest job since graduating from LSU with a BS in business in 2015 is “lounge server” at a hotel bar in Baton Rouge

    The other is Robert Brooks, who is actually in Michigan. Brooks is a former special ed teacher who moved into admin in his district, then made the jump to charter school administration, working for one of the Educational Achievement Authority school districts in the state as a superintendent for a very short time, before the EAA was abolished.

    Robert is also working as a “retirement plan specialist” for a financial planning services company while he serves as “state program director” for MI Teachers of Tomorrow–so I’m not sure how much of a job this really is at this point, or how much emphasis Brooks or ToT is placing on this operation in Michigan.

    The group is claiming they will assign mentors for each of their placed hires–I don’t know how that could happen with exactly 1 employee in the state, but there’s no shortage of folks looking to make a buck off of public education.

    I’ve written about Teachers of Tomorrow and other problems with these kinds of alternative route/backdoor entries to the classroom programs here: http://progressive.org/public-school-shakedown/behind-michigans-teacher-shortage-a-manufactured-crisis-180426/

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