Home » Uncategorized » An Urgent Message to current and future Teach for America recruits

An Urgent Message to current and future Teach for America recruits

Once upon a time, I planned to graduate college and become a Teach for America corps member, thinking I would be doing the education system a favor. That was until I gave my admiration of this seemingly benevolent organization a second thought. 

Recently, I came across this amazing letter to new TFA recruits written by Katie Osgood, a special education teacher in Chicago, beautifully sums up everything terrible I discovered during my research into Teach for America. I really could not have said it better myself.

I really do encourage everyone to read it, especially if you are thinking of doing Teach for America. I know your intentions are good, but there are many more constructive ways you can contribute to education (like, I don’t know… attending an actual teacher college). Teach for America simply isn’t one of those ways.

Further suggested reading:

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2 Comments

  1. I think it’s incredibly ignorant and irresponsible to disparage TFA as an organization. There are wonderful corps members and alumni who make significant changes in the lives of their students, just like traditional teachers that trained in undergraduate teacher preparation programs. i wholeheartedly support Teach For America’s mission, and I look forward to seeing the tremendous impact the new crop of corps members have on their students come fall.

    • Hannah says:

      What’s really ignorant is not looking at the bigger issue. Did you read the letter? Did you look through all the evidence cited? Have you stopped to hear what students and even TFA alums (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/07/10/teach-for-america-critics-gathering-to-organize-resistance/) are saying about the organization? Why they’re organizing this resistance? Did you know that many qualified teachers are being laid off and being replaced with TFA corps members? That money is being cut from public schools in Newark while $150 million of public money is being spent on building a Teacher’s Village for TFA? Is that honestly necessary?

      Yes, there are wonderful corps members who make significant changes in the lives of students. I am an aspiring teacher myself and I once dreamed of teaching for TFA. And I like to believe that I would have done a great job for students. That was until I realized the inequality that TFA reinforces and its ties to the corporate education reform movement that continues to destroy public schools by driving an agenda of privatization. I realized if I really wanted to do my students the most good, I would become fully prepared through a comprehensive teacher prep program. TFA recruits who really want to work with students and don’t just want to join TFA to put on their resume for law school, can attend teacher colleges and get full prep and classroom experience that is supervised and does not hurt students. Is that so much to ask?

      Shortcuts into a profession only deprofessionalize it. We keep talking about making teaching more respected in this country, why don’t we hold our teachers up to high and fair standards? Why do we let teachers with 5 weeks of training (that’s definitely not enough time) into classrooms? In Finland, where the education system is outstanding, teachers are highly respected because it is as hard to become a teacher as it is to become a doctor or lawyer. No shortcut programs like “Teach for Finland”. All teachers are highly skilled, well-trained, very professional AND their system allows them to excel because it does not restrict them. There is no testing in Finland and teachers are actually allowed to teach freely (a concept that seems to escape most ed reformers and something I personally want to work on FIRST).

      Once you look at both sides and still agree with Teach for America, we can talk more.

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