A program that started out with much promise has changed course along the way. Now they are replacing experienced tenured teachers instead of going to schools where they are needed.
It costs nothing to hire experienced laid-off teachers locally, but it costs several thousand in recruiting fees to hire a TFA recruit with only five-weeks training in the classroom.
It destroys the morale of good, caring teachers who planned for their life careers. It turns teaching into a job in which dedication and experience are not needed. The company has managed through media interaction to turn Teach for America into a group thought to be elite. A group better than ordinary everyday teachers with bachelor or masters degrees. Not sure how they did that.
Teach for America wants to put its teachers in Cincinnati Public Schools, possibly as early next year.
Board members haven't decided if TFA is right for Cincinnati. The district of 33,000 students doesn't know how many teacher openings it will have next year. More than 300 teachers are eligible to retire next year but it's unclear how many will do so or if the district will be able to replace them.
School Board President Eve Bolton noted that there is a glut of laid-off veteran teachers in the region. Why should CSP hire TFA teachers instead, she asked.
Two reasons, Lindy said:
-Because of their diverse backgrounds, TFA teachers provide a strong candidate pool.
-TFA teachers have leadership and belief in kids.
Regular everyday fully trained and certified teachers have leadership and belief in kids. Plenty of it. That is really an insult for the TFA recruiter to say that.
This drastic change in direction through the years for TFA has been often pointed out on Gary Rubenstein's TFA blog.
Over the years I’ve seen TFA stray from the initial goal to fill voids where they were desperately needed. TFA has always been good at PR. As a struggling non-profit in the mid-90s they were wise to spotlight the success stories. This included successes of individual teachers and then of schools that were run by TFA alumni, generally charter schools.
But I’ve seen more recently what started as PR and taking care of the organizations self-interests turn into something that I honestly believe is dangerous.
By exaggerating their success, they have gotten the public to believe that kids would be a lot better off if we got rid of all the old lazy teachers and replaced them with these TFA dynamos — not admitting that most TFA corps members are not very effective, especially in their first year.
TFA has spawned so many charter schools each with their own PR machines and has fueled a movement that actually threatens public schools. Many of these charter schools kick out the hardest-to-educate kids so they can get their statistics up. In doing so, the self interest of growing a charter network is completely contrary to the TFA goal that one day ALL children …
Rubenstein says there is hope for the group to reclaim their goals of the past.
But getting back to a place that has the values that I joined TFA to pursue, twenty years ago, almost to the day, will not just happen. It will require, first, that TFA acknowledges their role in this current ‘blame the teachers’ political mentality. Whether it was because others used TFA’s exaggerated successes for their own benefit or, in the case of the staff member slandering a respected scholar, just arrogance and refusal to listen to criticism, TFA has played, and continues to play a role.
The "blame the teacher" mentality is shared pretty much generally now by congress members in both parties. It is also shared by the leadership of our party. I am retired, but I keep in touch with many who are still in the classroom. This mindset by the reformer groups is disturbing to them. They have lost a lot of confidence in themselves and in each other, and they are now fearful of the jobs they felt good about for years.
It's wrong, it is humiliating to good teachers who trained and worked for years to make them feel inadequate.
I think maybe some of our leaders are catching on that they have made mistakes in allowing the takeover of education by billionaires and groups that charge to recruit trainees with just a few weeks training. Unfortunately no one is stepping up with a mea culpa, and soon it will be to late to stop the roller coaster.