Teach for America is listening to its critics — and changing, writes Dana Goldstein on Vox.
Two pilot programs rethink the “quick-prep, high-turnover model,” she writes.
One will provide a year of pre-service training to 50 to 100 college seniors who applied early-decision to TFA and were accepted during their junior years.
The second pilot “will encourage corps members in 12 regions — Baltimore, Charlotte, Chicago, Connecticut, D.C., Dallas, Nashville, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, San Antonio, South Carolina, and St. Louis — to commit to teach for up to five years.”
Corps members will receive instructional coaching and stipends to pursue graduate studies in education.
“Teaching beyond two years cannot be a backup plan — it has to be the main plan,” co-CEO Matt Kramer said in a speech announcing the changes.
Robert Schwartz loved being a Teach for America teacher, Goldstein writes. After his two-year commitment, he taught for five more years at an East Los Angeles middle school. “TFA was a great thing for me,” Schwartz said.
But then he took a job as an administrator at an LA-based charter school network called the Inner City Education Foundation. . . . He realized he wasn’t interested in hiring brand-new Teach for America corps members. He wanted to hire experienced teachers who were familiar with his students’ neighborhoods — not fresh recruits to the profession, most from other cities, who’d been through just five weeks of training and could only be counted on to stay for two or three years.
“My argument was: let’s take the resources you’re investing in a corps member — tens of thousands of dollars per year — and put that into professional development for training current staff on campuses,” Schwartz said. “You’ll see teachers that are going to stick around longer and are really invested in the community.”
TFA has many more applicants than it can handle, writes Goldstein. It can afford to reject those who aren’t willing to commit to more than two years of teaching.
The corps also is enrolling many more blacks and Latinos.