3 de maio de 2014

Teach for America: Is the Magic Gone? by dianeravitch

May 3, 2014
This article in The Hechinger Report looks at the current turmoil surrounding Teach for America. It is sending young people to take jobs away from experienced teachers. There is a growing movement to resist TFA on college campuses, started by young people who aim for a career in teaching, not a bullet point on their resume. Meanwhile, the key staff jobs in Congress are held by former members of TFA, placed there strategically to protect TFA's interests. And, most disturbingly, TFA has become the labor force for the privatization movement, the young people who staff privately managed charters. Not coincidentally, TFA is a favorite of the far-right Walton Family Foundation, which is devoted to vouchers and charters, while snubbing public schools.

Teach for America is a paradox. The young people who enter its program are idealistic, bright, and generally very admirable. The organization is cunning, ambitious, highly political, and supplying the cheap labor to privatize America's public schools and undermine the teaching profession.

The young people who join TFA are eager to serve. The organization TFA seems remarkably self-serving.

Whereas TFA began with the promise of placing its inexperienced young teachers--fresh college graduates with only five weeks of training--where they were needed most, TFA is now sending its recruits to districts where they are not needed at all, where there are no teacher shortages, where experienced teachers are being laid off and replaced by the cheap labor of TFA. For policymakers, it is a calculated decision to save money. After all, few TFA will stick around long enough to earn a high salary or to qualify for a pension. Step by step, TFA is making the case that teachers need no preparation to be "great" teachers,, even though it is not true, even though no high-performing nation would place amateurs in the classroom as full teachers, even though their claim in effect says that there is no such thing as a teaching profession.

Perhaps it is no accident that the highest profile alums of TFA are leaders of the privatization movement, like Michelle Rhee, John White, Bobby Jindal's Commissioner of Education in Louuisiana, and Kevin Huffman, Governor Haslam's Commissioner of Education in Tennessee, and Erik Guckian, senior education advisor to far-right North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

With more and more alums and college students aware that TFA has become a pawn of the privatization movement, what will idealistic young people think of the organization in the future? Where did TFA's idealism go?

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