The Kansas City Star reports on Teach for America’s role in city schools. Teachers with the organization clearly make contributions to schools in need, but also face a good deal of challenges and sometimes their presence generates controversy.
TFA has earned rave reviews and fierce criticisms during its still relatively short existence. On the whole, I’m strongly supportive of the organization and its efforts. Why wouldn’t we want to get some of the country’s best and brightest young people going into the classroom to teach?
Just because not all of them are going to stay, or because some of them are using the position to pad their resumé before going on to “bigger and better” things, doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing for the system. Some will stay, some will move on, but all will have brought energy, optimism and aptitude into struggling public schools for at least a season.
Sometimes you’ll hear education establishment types (veteran public school teachers, ed school professors, etc) bad mouth TFA and its young teachers who enter tough teaching posts across the country. They didn’t go through the right channels, they don’t belong to the union (some are, some aren’t, mostly depending on location, I believe), or some other myopic, petty grievance is sometimes behind the sniping. To me, this is the sort of backwards, tribalist approach that has eaten away at the system from the inside for many years.
Keep up the good work, TFA. Do all you can in the time you have to make a difference.