Teach For America's Civil War

AP Images/Todd Sumlin

Twenty-four years running, the rap on Teach for America (TFA) is a sampled, re-sampled, burned-out record: The organization’s five-week training program is too short to prepare its recruits to teach, especially in chronically under-served urban and rural districts; corps members only have to commit to teach for two years, which destabilizes schools, undermines the teaching profession, and undercuts teachers unions; and TFA, with the help of its 501(c)4 spin-off, Leadership for Educational Equity, is a leading force in the movement to close “failing” schools, expand charter schools, and tie teachers’ job security to their students’ standardized test scores. Critics burn TFA in internet-effigy across the universe of teacher listservs and labor-friendly blogs. Last July, it earned Onion fame: an op-ed entitled “My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids,” followed by a student’s take, “Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?”

Despite the endless outcry, no one has ever staged a coordinated, national effort to overhaul, or put the brakes on, TFA—let alone anyone from within the TFA rank-and-file. On July 14, in a summit at the annual Free Minds/Free People education conference in Chicago, a group of alumni and corps members will be the first to do so.

The summit, billed as “Organizing Resistance Against Teach for America and its Role in Privatization,” is being organized by a committee of scholars, parents, activists, and current corps members. Its mission is to challenge the organization’s centrality in the corporate-backed, market-driven, testing-oriented movement in urban education. 

“The goal is to help attendees identify the resources they have as activists and educators to advocate for real, just reform in their communities,” says co-coordinator Beth Sondel, a 2004 TFA alum who is now a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin. Though the organizers don’t have pre-set goals, possible outcomes range from a push for school districts not to contract with TFA to counter-recruitment of potential corps members away from the program.

TFA’s resources are enormous. The organization’s total assets for the 2011 fiscal year topped $350 million. That includes eight-figure support from the Broad, Walton, and Gates Foundations, leading bankrollers of campaigns to privatize school districts and ramp up standardized testing. The TFA orbit is also growing. It now has more than 10,000 corps members in 48 regions, as well as more than 32,000 alumni. Districts pay thousands in fees to TFA for each corps member in addition to their salaries—at the expense of the existing teacher workforce. Chicago, for example, is closing 48 schools and laying off 850 teachers and staff while welcoming 350 corps members. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans cut 7,500 school staff, converted the majority of its schools to charters, and, between 2005 and 2010, saw its share of black teachers drop from 73 percent to 56 percent. Over the past five years, TFA expanded its Greater New Orleans corps from 85 teachers to 375.

For districts, charter schools and fast-tracked teachers are attractive alternatives to public schools staffed with unionized labor—especially under the well-financed push that TFA supports. As the organization grows, it cultivates leaders who align themselves with its pro-charter slant. Leadership for Educational Equity’s alumni resources, as well as its biggest names, trend toward a particular politics. The 11,000 alumni who attended TFA’s 20-year anniversary summit in 2011 got to hear from charter boosters ranging from Harlem Children’s Zone CEO Geoffrey Canada and StudentsFirst CEO Michelle Rhee to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston. TFA alums are principals at half of KIPP charter schools—which two alumni founded—and the majority of Achievement First schools. Of the corps members TFA claims remain in education after their two-year stint (a hotly contested figure), administrators and extracurricular leaders are included.

The Chicago summit builds on the gamut of student, teacher, and community resistance to TFA-aligned reform, including recent, successful pushback against TFA itself. In May, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton vetoed $1.5 million in funding for the organization, citing TFA’s already-loaded coffers. Three weeks later, the state’s Board of Teaching voted to deny TFA a group-based licensing variance, an extra hurdle for corps members to be allowed to teach. In April, prominent alumni played a key role in getting the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to tighten the training requirements for teachers of English language learners—which will directly impact corps members.

Within TFA, resistance is an uphill battle. The optimism that singular change agents can overcome poverty—successful teaching “requires all the same approaches that transformational leadership in any setting requires” and “there is nothing elusive about it,” as TFA founder and CEO Wendy Kopp puts it—is a powerful brand that crowds out dissent. Those who question this ideology are less likely to identify as TFA alums—and, in turn, less likely to invest in speaking out against TFA. Those who do speak out face narrower access to leadership pipelines within TFA’s political empire.

“One of the misperceptions of TFA is that accomplished alumni are successful because they’re so persistent, they’re so relentless,” says Janelle Scott, a 1991 corps member who studies reform politics as a professor at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. “What’s talked about less in public discourse is how deep alumni networks are that are largely invisible. Many alumni don’t feel that they a have a voice.”

Organized resistance among TFA teachers is limited to localized spaces like New Orleans’ New Teachers’ Roundtable, whose coordinators are helping organize the Chicago summit. The local roundtable was formed by a group of TFA teachers who felt that the organization didn’t prepare them for students dealing with trauma or connect them with teachers fighting for racial justice before the storm. “That really made a lot of us pretty incompetent,” says Derek Roguski, a 2008 corps member and summit organizer. “Without that training, we thought the best thing was to create conversations in our community, and between our community and the people who we work with in New Orleans.” The roundtable hosts “story circles,” modeled after the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee of the 1960s, where white teachers and teachers of color share stories about the issues that they experience and witness.

The priority that TFA assigns to individual responsibility butts heads with this kind of teacher-community solidarity. Under the TFA model, “You’re not thinking collaboratively about what are we doing in these communities,” says Terrenda White, a 2002 corps member who interviews alumni as part of her PhD research at Columbia’s Teachers College. White recalls handing in her resignation letter the same week that she received her teaching credential. “I just felt like I had severed this sense of continuity,” she says. “Notions of community just did not fit with the way in which we were churned in and out.”

The summit is intended to be a kind of scaled-up roundtable with a political edge. The organizers emphasize that their purpose is not simply to call out TFA for inadequately training teachers—but to form a space for pushing back on the privatization movement that TFA anchors.

Within the boundaries of its five-week training model, TFA admits to imperfections in connecting teachers with their host communities. “Teach For America is still evolving in our approach to these issues,” says Heather Harding, a 1992 corps member who is now TFA’s senior vice president for community partnerships, special initiatives, research, and engagement. “TFA hasn’t always been willing to grapple with critical race issues but I have witnessed a significant shift in our actions over the last three years.” Harding points to a program on race and identity that the group piloted in last year’s Charlotte summer training that is being implemented nationwide this year.

The summit, she adds, is “an important step in having alumni ‘talk back’ to TFA leadership.” In a statement to the Prospect, TFA says that it won’t be sending any senior staff to the summit, as it feels that an “official presence could potentially inhibit…open, honest communication.” Still, Harding says, I hope that they produce a paper or presentation that makes constructive suggestions to the organization so we can be held accountable to those dissenting voices in our community. I believe in the big tent approach and I know many of my colleagues do, too.”

TFA, like its 501(c)4 spin-off, persistently defends its political neutrality. Responding to an open letter this spring from prominent TFA alum and critic Gary RubinsteinKopp wrote, “Active and vocal alumni like you are proof that there’s no shortage of diverse opinion within the Teach For America community. But you’re right that we haven’t done enough to highlight ideological diversity and reach out to alumni who feel that their opinions aren’t welcome.”

Highlighting diversity, in and of itself, is small beans in a world ruled by elite networks and high finance. For TFA to put its money where its mouth is, it would have to reroute its financial and political connections, which are entrenched in a particular world of reform.

Though summit organizers say they’ll be happy if TFA engages with them, they stress that their purpose is to provide an autonomous space for elevating dissenting voices. “We really are thinking of this as a countermovement,” says co-coordinator Kerry Kretchmar, a 2006 TFA alum who now teaches education at Carroll College. “We hope, out of bringing these networks together, that we’re taking the first step.”

Comments

And, who are huge donors to TfA in recent years, the Walton Family Foundation, who, despite having virtually no background in education, are leading a national push for more school "choice" (read: privitization). Meanwhile, the one thing shown to consistently raise educational achievement - better economic conditions for families - is the one thing Walmart and the Waltons are most undermining. Walmartization of our schools, no thanks. TfA should say no thanks to Walmart money.

Oakland, California is a testing ground for failed national education policies. The district is a magnet for TSA experimentation. At McClymonds, a 95% African American High School, 6 teachers left mid-year leaving subs to finish their classes. Good local people want to be teachers here, but wages are the lowest in the county. This opens the door to a flood of TFA folks coming here for their inner city experience. TFA's come and go creating greater instability for our poor kids. Oakland closes schools in African American neighborhoods and gives the property to Charters which comprise 42% of our district. The union is on its knees and last election billionaire PAC donations funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into an organization called Greater Oakland Schools or GO to sweep the election. With the reformers and privatizers in control they are now selling off our property. The district's public image is that it has a "strategic plan" it is implementing and calls itself the "most improved district" in California. I could go on and on....

TFA is necessary in that it started to bring a few teachers into teaching who had real, long-term, and serious commitment to intellectual rigor. These were students who had long dedicated themselves to the life of the mind by reading from an early age, reading vigorously in middle and high school, and consequently had respectable SAT and ACT scores. These students went on to highly-selective universities. When they sit for GRE exams they do well.

Unfortunately this is not the case for the folks who have gone into teaching (and ultimately administrators in education) for the past 40 years. The shamefully low GRE scores (so low the ed schools try to avoid publishing them) of the MEd students have put a cadre of ignorami into the public schools which has produced the current state of low quality schools.

While TFA takes students from highly-selective universities which is essential (most current teachers in public schools went to second rate universities) TFA should have never used only the "5-week" training, but rather done as I did (independently) gone through a year and a half of Ed school coursework (all of it rubbish in terms of lack of rigor and intellectual integrity--but nonetheless required for licensing (and not an "alternative licensing path.)) It is even possible to do this after a successful career (no need for phony alternative licensing.) In essence, a person could create their own TFA. What TFA does provide is support for intelligent people who want to go into teaching which is essential first step and ultimate bulwark against the hugely low-IQ force of Education administrators which exists in the field.

It will be a long and difficult battle against the huge amounts of low-IQ administrators and teachers who have dominated the field of teaching for the past 40 years and TFA could support folks who really care about intellectual discipline and academic quality. Whether they can change the mess these rubbish Ed schools have created is, sadly, in doubt.

To your first point: people that have a "real, long-term, and serious commitment to intellectual rigor" already have many options to get into teaching. In my current state, anyone with a college degree can take an exam and get a preliminary license. Or, you can take the exam and major in education at some point for an initial license. Teach For America doesn't need to exist to get good people into education.

To your second point: be careful insulting teachers as a monolithic group. I very well on the GREs. My percentile doesn't affect my career, though, because the #1 priority of teachers and schools is classroom management, then teaching/presentation skills (knowledge of best practice techniques), then subject knowledge. If you can't manage a class, it doesn't matter that you were in the 90th percentile on the GRE; nobody will be learning anything in your room.

Saying that most teachers went to "second-rate" universities is again an insult to teachers and a great deal of universities in our nation. The department of education requires a fairly specific curriculum for education students, and you could get a very similar curriculum at any university education program. In fact, at my "higher-end" university, I was exposed to more theory than applicable practice tips, so you could argue that my sister was a better-trained teacher at her state school that focused more on practice.

If you only went through a year and a half of ed school, it seems you missed the most important part: student teaching. That is where all that theory you learned in class is applied. They make you describe how you applied it. You are eased into teaching, and given support if you struggle. Any teacher training program that does not include student teaching (ahem, TFA) is doing their trainees a serious disservice.

On to the next point: Why do we need so many high-IQ people around for only two years (if they make it that far)? We need serious, long-term teachers. Teach For America takes spots that would otherwise go to people who want to stick around for the long haul. They usually live in the area, and they've been studying education for years. Why should they lose out on a job for a person with virtually no training, but boasting the impressive "High IQ" credentials (if you'd studied in ed school, you'd know how thoroughly IQ has been discredited as any sort of meaningful measurement).

Finally, our schools are not doing that badly. Our rich kids do better on PISA exams than most of the world's rich kids. Our poor kids do better than most of the world's poor kids. We have a very unique, economically and socially diverse population, and we educate all of them, not just a select few. Very few other countries can make both of those claims. Could we all improve? Absolutely. Could certain districts improve more than others? Yes. Does pointing fingers at teachers and calling them dumb do anything to help the situation? Nope.

You speak of student teaching as though TFA teachers don't receive this benefit. Unlike traditionally trained teachers they receive constant feedback and review from the organization during the school yea. They attend professional development monthly, if not more.. Furthermore, don't assume every TFA teacher isn't in it for the long haul. Some people use it as a route to enter education. While some states may allow "just a test" many do not and TFA allows this opportunity. Do they learn educational theory before enter the classroom? Some. But they learn a lot of it while in the classroom and can immediately implement it while earning their masters in education. They aren't taking jobs "away from teachers". They are teaching in schools that many teachers avoid and do not have enough teachers applying. The high turn over rate has nothing to do with background - I've seen many traditionally trained teachers quit mid-year in Urban schools and choose to not return at the end if a school year.

The fact that we turn this into a debate of TFA VS. traditional is ridiculous. At the end of the day it is about the students. It is about educating them, no matter who does it. If the teachers aren't co-existing within the school, the students aren't learning appropriately. So stop this debate over the petty details, get in the classroom and educate kids. And if you haven't been through TFA, stop tearing it down. Many people enter TFA with advanced degrees and training, including educational and professional experience in their subject area and some enter with their teaching certificates in hand. All of the stereotypes you believe about the organization are not true - it isn't a cookie cutter organization - stop treating it like it is.

So what you are saying is TFA uses the kids from the first year as practice? Student teachers, in my experience as a student were pretty godawful until the middle/end of the school year...they were earnest enough but didn't have the experience, and that is with an experienced teacher to help them. A "seminar" does you no help for things that come up minute by minute.

I would argue no one is a wonderful teacher their first year.

So, what you're saying is that TFA teachers are essentially student teaching their entire first school year. Without a lead teacher supporting them, this is a terrible idea- they might get help and support their first year (though my state has a mentor program that sounds similar for all teachers), they are on their own in the classroom. When I student taught, I had some real stinkers as lessons, but it was OK because the rest of the day was taught by the real teacher, and there wasn't any real learning loss. I was allowed to get my feet wet and observe classroom management before jumping in and trying it on my own. You know that turning things around after a rocky start can be incredibly difficult- TFA makes it that much more likely that the first year of teaching will be challenging for the teacher and less worthwhile for the students.

They actually ARE taking jobs away from teachers. There are many schools that will not even interview a more experienced teacher. Even the article discusses the fact that there are qualified applicants for the jobs that are filled by TFA.

The fact is that most TFA teachers aren't in it for the long haul. The retention rate after the first two years is far worse than those who go through traditional routes to teaching. It is in no way presented as a path to becoming a teacher- it's presented as a chance to maybe help out a poor area, but mostly as a learning experience for the TFA teacher, like the Peace Corps. The focus of TFA is not on the students. On that note, I doubt many who entered TFA

I'm not tearing down other teachers at my school. And if we want to talk about tearing teachers down, let's take a look at the comment above my original (and TFA's rhetoric) that demeans current teachers as "the bottom of the barrel," and their TFA as "the best and the brightest." They might be the best and the brightest at something, but they aren't any better than an educator with experience at teaching.

But some are in it "for the long haul". There are amazing principles and educators who have been in the system for years that originated in TFA in my city. I stand by my point, professing a hatred towards TFA and assuming everyone who enters is the same does not help the children or the education systems. There are multiple alternative teaching programs in the country that operate similar to TFA, yet they are not being attacked.

Excellent! I could not agree more. We need top students going into teaching . Everyone knows that education schools have long recruited from the bottom of the barrel (not always, but often). All students benefit from teachers who are smart, well read, and intellectually curious. There are many reasons to question some of the recent "reforms" to education, but Teach for America is not one of them. I've seen these young teachers in action in the schools, and they are invariably the most committed and capable people on staff. Our schools top to bottom are full of incompetent and just plain dumb administrators and more than a few ill-informed and just plain strange teachers. Why would anyone object to bringing our nation's best and brightest into schools where they are most needed. The biggest challenge these schools face is finding teachers to fill the open vacancies!

Why would anyone object to bringing "our nation's best and brightest" into schools where they are most needed? Well, first of all, they aren't needed. In California, about 19,500 teachers were laidoff last year and there have been huge layoffs for four years now! My brother-in-law received a pink slip a couple of years ago- ironically, it was the day after he received his teacher of the year award! Meanwhile, you would like his school district to hire someone with no teaching experience, someone who is only committed to teaching for two years before going on to a career in finance, law, and business? Who could object to that??? "But the most objectionable aspect of Teach for America—other than its contempt for lifetime educators—is its willingness to create another pathway to wealth and power for those already privileged in the rapidly expanding educational-industrial complex, which already offers numerous careers for the ambitious and well-connected." -Mark Naison, "Why Teach for America Is Not Welcome in My Classroom".

Did your brother-in-law's district employ TFA teachers? Because if not, it had nothing to do with how educators were trained....

The presence of TFA is very noticeable in New Orleans. One only has to think for a moment to question why? Where are our many experienced veteran Teachers who have lived and worked in New Orleans over the years. Gone. They no longer have jobs, due to the huge influx of young TFA Teachers who have been recruited by "school reform" advocates and profiteers. And still, the failure rate of their charter schools, run by BROAD, KIPP and New Leaders For New Schools, with TFA Teachers in most of our classrooms, is 79%! Some of our Veteran and now displaced New Orleans Teachers and some of our parents worked hard to plan and present at this Conference. Why are their names and positions not listed in this article? Who profits? Again, our veteran New Orleans Teachers and our New Orleans parents are rushed over and out, in order to make room for a new style of Carpetbaggers!! The children are the losers.

Did you know that a high A.Q., (arrogance quotient), is a sure sign of a low I.Q.?

What an arrogantly misinformed response this is. The truth is that the vast majority of TFA "teachers" are gone within the first two years - just long enough to have their student debt eliminated - the real reason they were there. Nearly all of the true talent in teaching has come from those individuals you dismiss as being less than those who are able to afford an Ivy league education. I suppose that was your slam against state colleges - again, unfounded and unsubstantiated misinformation. The fact is that TFA does not have a track record worth bragging about and neither do you.

Although I suspect the dissenting TFA alum in this article follow the national trend of leaving teaching after 5 or fewer years, I'm also annoyed that the dissenting alum, except for Rubenstein, aren't still in the classroom. They too have chosen educational "leadership" rather than leading by example and continuing to work directly with students. I support the counter-movement but I wish the sad equivalence of excellence and leadership didn't exist. We need our best in our classrooms

Although I suspect the dissenting TFA alum in this article follow the national trend of leaving teaching after 5 or fewer years, I'm also annoyed that the dissenting alum, except for Rubinstein, aren't still in the classroom. They too have chosen educational "leadership" rather than leading by example and continuing to work directly with students. I support the counter-movement but I wish the sad equivalence of excellence and leadership didn't exist. We need our best in our classrooms

Rachel Jeantel should become the poster child for the destruction wrought by teacher's unions in America's schools.
She is a 19 year-old senior at Norland High School in Miami, Florida and epitomizes the type of education delivered by teacher's unions. Only 23% of Norland's students score above basic on reading while 38% score below basic. Only 13% at Norland score above basic on math while 50% score below basic.

Why don't these members of the teacher's union learn to TEACH this summer???!!!

It is outrageous that you should name this student and slander her. You know nothing about her except what you surmised from her testimony in one of the most difficult situations she will ever have to face. You conflate complex issues and make gross generalizations about this young woman, her fellow students, many of whom are not native English speakers, and about their teachers. For what should we make you the poster child? Ignorance? Condescension? Misuse of statistics? Bad form.

Let me quote from the book of Job, "You speak like one of the foolish women (men). You are so bitter against a profession, about which you know nothing. You go online and grab some data, accurate or not, and use it to slander the most influential people in the lives of every man, woman, boy and girl. You wouldn't even last for an hour in one of our urban schools, rife with students with misdiagnosed or undiagnosed social, mental, intellectual and psychological disorders and many of them from homes with socio-economic problems. These are the schools that get the least amount of money per student, have the most deplorable working conditions, usually are overcrowded... Need I go on?
Based on your negative rant and data -spewing, I can only assume that you either belong to a group that owns charter schools, and are lining your pockets with funds that should be used to upgrade urban education or you are one of those that believe in keeping the poor in "their place" by depriving them of quality education under the guise of providing a better experience for them through half-baked institutions such as charter schools and fly-by-night teacher preparation programs such as Teach for America. Our children who are educated in charter schools, which have better facilities, resources, technology...DO NOT fare better than those who can't do any better than to attend the out-dated, run-down, ceiling-falling-down, no-airconditions-or ceiling -fans, hot-in-the- spring and summer, cold-in-the-fall-and-winter, under-staffed, over-crowded, look-like-prisons, sorry-excuses-for-institutions of learning. Unfortunately many teachers and students in urban school districts encounter these and a myriad of other problems on a daily basis, yet they succeed. I hate to even waste my time responding to an elitist, racist, ethnically-insensitive "princess" as you, with my computer malfunctioning, but someone has to tell it like it is. Leave good, working people alone and do something constructive.

While the overall PISA rankings ignore socio-economic differences in the tested schools, when you look at the data based on the rate of free and reduced lunch, a direct relationship is established between poverty and low scores. The truth is, unionized public school teachers are generally better qualified than non-union private school teachers. 52% of public school teachers hold masters degrees compared to 38% of private school teachers. A Gates-financed study released last year suggests the average teacher may be working an eleven-hour day. I find myself working at least nine, (I teach in the central part of Los Angeles which has high rates of poverty and crime). "Students in poverty require intensive supports to break past a condition that formal schooling alone cannot overcome,” Tirozzi, National Assn. of Secondary School Principals. Of course the billionaires, hedge fund managers, and others who believe in market reforms ignore the obvious truth because it confutes their capitalist ideology.

As a 2009 South Louisiana alumnus, I'm right in line to criticize TFA, but I tire of reading about alumni "summiting" to complain without proposing alternatives.

"...the organizers don’t have pre-set goals." In other words, this is alumni taking the opportunity to keep acting self-important, use the Teach for America brand to get attention, and market themselves as contrarian without proposing any thoughtful avenues of change. The first two are what most TFA alumni do anyways.

If TFA were the great model that some commenters think it is, then wealthier communities would demand TFA in their classrooms. I'm just not seeing Greenwich, CT or Winnetka, IL inviting TFA to town.

These comments about unionized teachers being ineffective, I love that the exemplar schools used are always THE WORST IN THE DISTRICT. The fact is that teachers are only partly in control of test scores AT BEST...there is the old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make em drink". Good teaching can help inspire, but it needs to be combined with active parents and support/funding from the community.

Throwing the teachers' unions into it is the RWNJ siren song. It's all the fault of the unions! Nevermind the thousand other factors, let's just blame it on unions.
Forget the cut in funding, the dilapidated buildings (some still with air conditioning), the oversized class rooms where many teachers spend their own money on supplies, the lack of technology in the lower income parts of cities and towns, etc. And that doesn't even touch on the health, well-being and attitude of the kids.
Teachers fight an uphill battle most days and all they get is derision from the right. No problem paying an athlete or CEO millions of dollars - but a teacher trying to keep their financial head above water is an outrage!

A counter-movement that aims at reducing TFA's support of school privatization is something that I would support sort of. But the way the write of this article describes this "movement," it seems about the participants and loosely about "communities," but there are no actual examples of how and why students will benefit from this fight. This seems like an ideological, labor vs. big money fight that seems to forget the students for which this public education systems is supposed to serve. Also, just like every ed reform article I read from any writer, politician or anyone that is not a veteran teacher SERIOUSLY oversimplifies the problems and solutions of education and divorces all reforms (TFA included) from history of public education in this country. This is really a disservice to the politicians and wonks who read this publication and the TFA corps members and alums who say they want to "better" TFA, who may or may not be wrecking the "system," which is already by the way, broken. The situation of public education varies widely in this country by state, district and administration. Even in the poorest districts, I've seen awesome veteran teachers who came through traditional education systems, and I've seen awesome teachers who came through TFA. Likewise, most (this is almost completely ignored by the writer), leave the profession within 5 years, in these poor districts. This problem REMAINS and is endemic and not caused by TFA. The job is ridiculously demanding; the systems in place are onerous, not streamlined and diluted by politicians and poor oversight. But again, that was what I saw in the Philly school district, WHEN I WAS THERE. To think that the situation is the same in Philadelphia and rural Texas is to misunderstand the U.S. school system. Stop being so self-righteous as to think that you, and only you, are fighting the good fight. Humility is also something I see lacking in not only this article, but in Teach For America as well.

At least AT LEAST, Teach For America has continuously sought to grow and change, respond to its alumni and corps members needs by doing constant and system-wide surveys and engagement on a regular, streamlined basis. I know there are people with professional motivations in the organizations, but as nonprofits and governments go, TFA was one of the most responsive to constructive criticism I have every seen. It's one thing to say, HEY, TFA, please don't accept the biggest gifts that will allow you to do the work you want to do, and another to say, your training system is inadequately preparing teachers, we need to expand it to be a full-fledged program, which by the way costs a lot of money and work to implement.

All children must be taught a rich, complete, coherent curriculum by a well trained, well payed professional teacher!

More of the South winning the Civil War backed by billionaires. Pounding on public schools and teachers' unions since Reagan, they want a privatized system begun when the south was ordered to integrate and instead formed Christian schools. They do not accept special ed students or any students they do not like. They used massive media to attack public education as if it is failing when they have no ability to compete educationally. It is a system of lies, but the US is supine in protecting what they had before the red states began dismantling the system and all the states underfunded much of the public system. Perhaps a student in one of their schools has more social exposure than their home-schooled generation of radicals, but their educational structure has been proven to be led by those with no experience in the rigors of teaching beyond their ideology.

I'm not sure I understood the meaning of the phrase "The road to hell is paved with good intentions" until I started to learn more about Teach For America.

Do we have a "FFA" or "CTA". Fly for America or Cardiology for America. One only needs do consider this do know that TFA is wrong and even stupid. Give me a well meaning eager individual with a History degree from a large Midwestern university who would really like to try cardiology at some second rate hospital for two years. Or take over the controls of some Boeing 747 because there is a shortage of qualified pilots. We should no more more allow someone to conduct surgery after a five week training program than take over a classroom!

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