Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Teach for America Really the Best Way to Fix America's Education System?

A lot of my friends are applying for Teach for America this year. I see why they want to do it. It's a great cause and it gives you another two years before you have to enter the "real world" and throw yourself into the scary job market. However, I am not sure if working for Teach for America is really the best way to help our country.

Though I believe that the organization has great intentions, I do not think that it is truly solving the problem of educational inequality in America. Children in inner-city schools need special attention and I find it hard to believe that a person who is straight-out-of-college and who has only been trained in teaching for five weeks is more qualified to teach children than a person who has done hours upon hours of observational training and who has a masters in education.

Yes, years of training does not necessarily make someone a great teacher, but how would you feel if it was your child who was being taught by a teacher who was not certified?

I know that not every one will agree with my opinion and I really do not mean to offend anyone who is applying, but I strongly recommend that those of you applying or considering applying for the program read a very insightful piece by Katie Osgood. She discusses how TFA has a history of busting teachers' unions and that the organization uses archaic research to determine which schools need help, and that the schools are almost always ones with predominately black communities.

Another great piece on this issue is by Catherine Michna, who is a former TFA corps member herself. She discusses how the organization de-professionalizes teaching and that the schools who hire TFA corps members often fire their professional teachers for TFA's cheap alternative.

We certainly need to reform education in America, but I do not think that Teach for America is the answer to our problems.

But what is the answer? First of all, we need to stop corporatizing education. Teach for America is funded by giant corporations, including Walmart, Bank of America, and JP Morgan Chase. As a student at GW, I have seen first-hand how private universities love to jack up tuition in order to fund their president's $1 million salary. Only once we start treating education as a right and not as a way to make money can we actually begin to fix educational inequality in America.

So to all of you applying to Teach for America, I know that you have only the best intentions, but please consider this: Is working for an organization funded by some of the most corrupt organizations in America and that encourages schools to fire their professional teachers really the best way to make a difference in the education system?

This cat for sure wants to ensure that all children in America get access to quality education!

~ Corinne


  1. This is such a great analysis. I have a lot of friends in TFA and a lot of friends who ended up turning down TFA. Definitely a great concept, but for sure something that needs to be looked into and changed.

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