Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Defector Describes TFA in Two Words

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Why I Hate Teach for America":

I can only describe TFA in two words: foolishly arrogant. I completed one year with TFA. Why only one year when TFA requires members to commit to two? Because TFA changes the rules of their game to suit the agenda of TFA. In my case I was terribly placed in an area of teaching that was well outside my content area. I was trained to be an English teacher by TFA but that's not where they placed me. As a result, the charter school system with a 25% turnover rate did not take my contract the second year. TFA's policy (a word of warning to all prospective members) is they don't necessarily place you elsewhere and can (and do) drop members from the program. Because they do not like to lose at what they do, they are not very nice about it either.

TFA's current problem, among hundreds of others, is that real teachers, the ones who went through accredited institutions and have credentials the day they walk into the classroom, are being laid off, so placement of ersatz teachers like TFA's becomes harder for that organization. Beyond this though, is the irrefutable fact that TFA has existed for 20 years and even though in some cases their results have been as good as that of accredited teachers, it has been no better and in many cases, far worse.

The major problem facing TFA is that their rhetoric is twenty years old, held cult-like by die-hard members on TFA's payroll, and like a chain-letter or pyramid scam, TFA's existence depends on fanatical belief in order to raise the private funding needed to support the organization. The federal government is wisely expanding alternate certification program funding to other organizations making it competitive. In short, TFA's dogma, arrogance, and apparent lack of organizational intelligence to adapt has fostered the beginning of the demise of TFA as a viable organization.

It is unfortunate that government officials at all levels appear to be moving toward the incredibly unregulated world of privatized education. Charter Schools, (many of whom don't have qualified principals: they call them directors) are loose cannons. They too play by their own rules. They are a natural marriage for organizations like Teach For America, and that is the unfortunate development in American education. If it weren't for the play it by ear, almost unregulated charter school systems, organizations like TFA would have folded their tents long ago. It should be noted however, that American voters are to blame. Americans need to understand that privatization of education and teaching with unqualified teachers is not the long or short term solution to American education. We need to fix the existing system. That is done, not by flailing moderately paid teachers, but by making administrators, many of whom earn salaries four times as high as the teachers in their charge, prove competence and do their jobs.


  1. Look, TFA is and has been an almost messianic orgianization that claims to 'save' struggling schools and difficult classrooms. It is no secret that TFA teachers either initially share that vision or are looking for employment that will look good on the old resume and TFA has a certain altruistic cachet. That being said, the TFA funcions as a poor-mans Peace Corps. In other words, participants can hope for the admiration Peace Corps members receive and concommitant resume boost without the risks involved. The interests of TFA and the interests of its teacher participants may not directly overlap but they certainly do dovetail.
    There is no doubt that the actual interests and purpose of TFA are rather unaltruistic. It is heartening to see that a participant has seen the light. If you want to save humaninity put your money where your mouth is and join the Peace Corps, The Jesuit Volunteer Corps, Army Civil Affairs, the local soup kitchen, etc etc. TFA is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

  2. The leadership of TFA is an accomplice to the privatization deformers. Just the plain truth! Aptly put, TFA is part of the problem and not part of the solution. If TFA really cared for even their teachers, they would call the incompetent Huberman , Kleins an Rhees for not building strong support of teachers in general. The TFA leadership must be getting some nice benefits kissing the deformers butts!


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