Username or email. Reset password Go back. Teach for America, or TFA, the national corps of recent graduates who commit two years to teaching in underserved classrooms across the country, was founded to help close the achievement gap between rich and poor students. In remaking itself, TFA has subtly downgraded the principles that had won it allies across the spectrum. George W. The group attracted such boldface names, and hundreds of millions of dollars from some of the largest American firms and philanthropies, because it stood for a simple but powerful idea: That was the status-quo defeatism TFA originally set out to challenge.
TFA members would teach for two years, applying their energy and ambition to drive achievement at the classroom level. She speculated that some would stay in education, while others would go on to careers in law, medicine, business, journalism, etc. The following year, Kopp launched TFA with a corps of new teachers who were dispatched to schools in six regions—a virtuoso feat of social entrepreneurship.
Since then some 50, teachers have completed the program. Mostly, great teachers work hard—really hard. When I was a corps member, we were told that this is what it would take to overcome the forces of the status quo, which were chronically low expectations; broken homes and criminality in the streets; messy, undisciplined classrooms; and bloated bureaucracies that put the needs of adults above those of children. The TFA worldview diverged sharply from the one that predominated in the education industry. The leading lights of the profession held that the achievement gap was a product of inadequate funding and larger social inequalities.
Thus they transferred blame for classroom outcomes from teachers to policymakers and society at large. TFA raged against all this. The assumption that some kids were doomed to underachievement was wrong and, indeed, bigoted.
I was rejected by Teach for America
These children could pull themselves up, provided they had dedicated educators who believed in them. But TFA concentrated on the things that educators and school leaders could control.
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It would emphasize self-help and uplift. And it would accept friends and allies across political divides to fulfill the promise of educational equality. Then came the identity-politics checklist: Of the 11 demands, only three directly touched core education-reform areas—high expectations, accountability, and data-driven instruction—and these were couched in the broadest terms possible.
Beard is also making a grave mistake by attempting to banish legitimate conservative positions from the reform movement. Will these Americans give TFA a fair hearing on educational reform when the organization equates them with alt-right thugs?
- The education-reform outfit’s hard-left shift.
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But it is the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers that pose the main obstacle to expanding school choice and dismissing ineffective teachers. It is the unions that are bent on snuffing out data-driven instruction. Culturally, TFA was always more liberal than conservative. Educators tend to be liberal Democrats, regardless of the path that brings them to the classroom.
But education reformers are unwanted children of American liberalism.
They are signed up for the Democratic program, but they clash with public-sector labor unions, the most powerful component of the party base. As TFA went from startup to corporate-backed giant, it sustained withering attacks from leftist quarters. Michelle Rhee, the Korean-American alumna who in was tapped as chancellor of the District of Columbia system, became a lightning rod for anti-TFA sentiment on the left.
When D. In , one university instructor, herself a TFA alumna, urged college professors not to write letters of recommendation for students seeking admission to the organization. I wasn't. Apparently being affiliated to one or another of those groups assures your acceptance. Somehow magically, at that point, some applicants are foisted straight to the in-person interview, bypassing the online questions and activities and the phone interview. TFA doesn't explain how that decision is made, just that they know.
But not me, I guess being an excellent teacher was not a strong indicator. I was asked to answer more questions and to give my opinions about some strange situations that had nothing to do with teaching ability. In fact, throughout the entire application and interview process, I wasn't asked one question about my education philosophy, knowledge, or skills. I wasn't asked about my experiences working with kids. Not one question during the phone interview pertained to my teaching. I thought that odd. I was applying for a teaching position, wasn't I?
The next communication I received from TFA asked for my input about the application and interview process. It was not an anonymous survey, and it must be completed before I would be notified of my status -- optional, of course. The first interviewer had hung up on my repeatedly. Bad connection, he said, after I called him back each time. The online activity had scrolling problems which is a concern when taking a timed test.
I wondered if children ever had that problem when taking standardized tests. Would I be chastised for telling the truth? Would my lack of participation be looked upon as capricious? The entire process was lovely, I lied. What else would one say? A few days later I was notified that I had failed the phone interview. I was rejected by form letter. I'm sharing it with you here. Thank you very much for your interest in Teach For America and for the time and effort you invested in applying to our program and speaking with an interviewer.
I am very sorry to inform you that, after careful consideration of your candidacy, we did not select you to advance to the next stage of our admissions process. Your initiative in applying to Teach For America demonstrates your commitment to expanding opportunities for children and effecting social change, and we would like to offer all candidates a path to realizing these aims. This said, we know that Teach For America is not a fit for everyone.
While acknowledging the limitations of any selection process, we have developed a set of admissions criteria over time that helps us identify those most likely to be successful in our particular program. We know, however, that you have the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our country's pressing social needs, and we encourage you to pursue other ways to make a difference.
To assist you in your pursuit, we have posted on our website a list of recommended resources.
The February 12222 Issue
Additionally, if you are interested in being contacted by educational and service-oriented organizations that may wish to recruit Teach For America applicants for similar opportunities, you can complete a short form here. I am sorry that we will not be able to provide individual feedback on admissions decisions, given that we do not have the resources to handle the volume of potential requests. Although this e-mail may bring disappointment, I hope that your experience with Teach For America thus far has been positive.
If you would like to share any anonymous feedback on our admissions process, we welcome your reflections and suggestions here. I think if I made a rad effort I could totally groove with these guys. Honey badger the achievement gap, indeed. Your loss TFA. Note that the rejection letter makes no reference to teaching either. Here are some of the things I won't be receiving because I was rejected by Teacher for America.
Teach For America
Note that none of these things is paid for by Teach for America even though it collects millions. Teach for America hires no teachers. If you are an educator, I suggest you check out Educator Discounts because you may be eligible for some of them. In other words, you don't have to be a Teach for America recruit to take advantage of many of them. I know I'm not the only teacher rejected by Teach for America this year. TFA must stop leading with the mantra that certified, experienced teachers will not teach in poor schools.