Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Do We Still Need TFA?

A sure-fire sign that things are getting tough is when you start seeing people blame groups for something that isn't really their fault. So when you read a story out of Las Vegas about teachers there being wary of Teach for America and thinking that they might not be needed and may even be keeping teacher salaries artificially low, it's a sign that things are not great in Las Vegas. (Full disclosure: I am a TFA alum myself, but not in Las Vegas, though I have been there.)

First, let's rebut the whole TFA is keeping salaries low theme. According to the article, TFA has placed 308 teachers in Las Vegas over the last six years. That's about 51 a year. For 51 teachers - who are part of the union, by the way - to have any impact at all on the average teacher salary would mean that you have the tiniest district in the world or people are talking nonsense. My bet is nonsense given that they employ well over 16,000 teachers.

That's pretty low-hanging fruit, but it's worth pointing out since it shows the realm of ridiculousness that we're talking about.

The other, and more serious, issue raised by the article centers around what the role of TFA should be in during this time of layoffs and cutbacks. As teaching jobs become harder and harder to come by, is there still a role for TFA to play in terms of bringing in new teachers to the system?

I think that the answer is yes, but with changes. TFA needs to take a more focused approach at this point and probably needs to cut back on how many teachers it recruits. But even with layoffs and cutbacks, there are going to be some positions that are harder to fill than others and that's the role that TFA thrives in. Is Teach for America the answer to all of education's problems? Absolutely not. Does it still have a role to play in education today. Absolutely.

1 comment:

Hybrid said...

Getting an education is a gift. Don't let anyone ruin it :)

Check me out @ or follow me @