Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A critical look at "Teach for America"

Locations of Ivy League Conference full member...Image via WikipediaSome charities have a good rap far beyond their true worth, which is quite modest. But, run by Masters of the PR game, they do provide great careers for their founders and staffs, who become skilled at pleasing foundation funders, even as the problems they formed to address worsen (which only redoubles their fundraising). Hat tip to Sam Smith for leading me to this post:

Why one professor won’t let Teach for America recruit students in his classes . . .
. . . Since that time, the percentage of Fordham students accepted has marginally increased, but the organization has done little to win my confidence that it is seriously committed to recruiting people willing to make a lifetime commitment to teaching and administering schools in high poverty areas.

Never, in its recruiting literature, has Teach for America described teaching as the most valuable professional choice that an idealistic, socially conscious person can make, and encourage the brightest students to make teaching their permanent career. Indeed, the organization does everything in its power to make joining Teach for America seem a like a great pathway to success in other, higher paying professions. Three years ago, the TFA recruiter plastered the Fordham campus with flyers that said "Learn how joining TFA can help you gain admission to Stanford Business School." To me, the message of that flyer was "use teaching in high poverty areas a stepping stone to a career in business." It was not only profoundly disrespectful of every person who chooses to commit their life to the teaching profession, it advocated using students in high poverty areas as guinea pigs for an experiment in "resume padding" for ambitious young people. . . .
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