Most of the teachers in my school that went through TFA or similar programs are gone or on their way to other jobs. They began their teaching experience right out of undergrad and unsure what to do next. I went through a similar program to TFA; however, I was 10-15 years older than my cohort colleagues. I knew I wanted to teach, I knew I wanted to commit. I didn’t have the money to do it on my own. Teaching is not the respected profession of yesteryear. It is a grueling battle with little to no support. It is no surprise that TFA is suffering. It was not built to last.
Motoko Rich reports in a front-page story in the New York Times that Teach for America has seen a significant decline in the number of applicants.
TFA executives explain that the improved economy has drawn young people to work in high-paying jobs, instead of joining TFA (this explanation raises unintended questions about their interest in teaching or children).
Another suggestion is that the lure of teaching is down, since enrollments in education colleges has also declined.
The story suggests that TFA has lost its luster because of its close association with standards and testing, with charter schools, with evaluation of teachers by test scores (which seldom affects TFA recruits, who don’t stay in the classroom long enough to build up a record), and with weakening of teacher tenure. Some potential recruits are turned off, writes Rich, by TFA’s close association with the Walton Family Foundation, which has given it more…
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