In our last chapter, we looked at how a billionaire funded fake online school called K12 INC and run by Wall Street gamblers harms millions of students in the US every year. In this article, we will look at another billionaire funded scam called Teach For America (TFA). Of all of the weapons of mass deception used by the billionaires, TFA is probably the strangest. TFA recruits recent college graduates, gives them five weeks of “training” - which is really nothing more than a five week pep rally - and then ships them off to school districts nationwide to inflict their lack of training on innocent and often very young students. Just imagine being operated on by a doctor with only 5 weeks of training. It is simply not possible for anyone to learn how to be an effective teacher in only 5 weeks.
Within months, many honest TFA recruits quit, leaving the students without a teacher. As with everything else in the corporate raider ed reform scam, using fake teachers is “designed to fail.” It really does not matter to the corporate raiders that the TFA recruits quit or if students taught by TFA recruits do poorly on math and reading assessments. All that matters is that this scheme, like Common Core high failure rate tests, charter schools and all of the other weapons of mass deception makes hundreds of millions of dollars for those pushing this snake oil medicine.
Any experienced teacher knows that it takes many years of training and experience to become a good teacher. You have to learn how to construct lessons and design activities in carefully planned year long sequences. You have to learn your content area(s). You have to learn how to think on your feet and develop a broad range of skills that can only come with education and experience. Any one of these teaching skills can take years to learn. Having to integrate all of them into a teaching style takes many years.
The Real Goal of Teach for America is to Bust Teachers Unions
Why would billionaires promote a scam that replaces real teachers who have 5 to 10 years of training with fake teachers who have only 5 weeks of training and typically last less than one year in a classroom before quitting? Why would school administrators waste hundreds of millions of dollars training, paying and replacing thousands of fake teachers when the cost of hiring real teachers is much less? Certainly part of the plan is to make money. TFA makes hundreds of millions of dollars. However, there appears to be another more sinister motive at work. It appears that TFA is being used as a weapon to destroy the teachers union and to destroy teaching as a profession. Why would billionaires want to destroy the teachers union? Perhaps some billionaires see all of the money they could make replacing teachers with computers and computer software. But it is more likely that billionaires see teachers as a threat to their entire privatization plan. It is harder to manipulate teachers with corporate propaganda than it is to manipulate parents. Get rid of the experienced teachers and no one will be left besides already busy parents to oppose privatization of public schools.
It is therefore important for both parents and teachers to be aware of the drawbacks of TFA. We will begin with a brief review of the history of this TFA scam and then look at its current harm on our students and public schools.
Follow the TFA Money Trail
TFA was started in 1990 by a person named Wendy Kopp – a person without any training in education or any experience teaching in an actual classroom. Wendy started with about 500 recruits and has managed to raise the number up to about 12,000 fake teachers today – despite the fact that these fake teachers have had a terrible track record since the program started. Currently, Wendy manages to add more than 6,000 new recruits to this scam every year.
Wendy has had the audacity to charge school districts up to $5,000 for every new recruit she supplies them with. Wendy gets her money whether the TFA recruit teaches for a full year or not. Simple math puts the total robbery at about $30 to $60 million per year just from their parasitic relationship with local school districts. But in addition to the millions in State public money Wendy gets every year, Wendy also receives millions more from billionaires who like her style. Billionaire Bill has given millions of dollars to prop up TFA. This is just one of 12 grants from the fake Gates Foundation scam to the fake TFA scam. Bill Gates has given TFA more than $11 million.
In addition, about one third of the money for TFA comes from the US tax payers (you and me) as a result of grants from the federal government via an extremely corrupt US Department of Education. The TFA official operating expenses increased from $10 million per year in 2000 to $114 million per year by 2008 and exploded to $350 million by 2012. TFA currently has assets of more than $420 million. So obviously there is more money coming in to TFA than meets the eye.
TFA Backers have no training in Education or Child Development
Below are some TFA recruits laughing at shallow jokes and clapping for dishonest speeches of TFA recruiters out to brainwash them...
How is this even possible?
In the past, both state and federal law regulated who could teach in our public schools. Teachers were required to have years of training in child development, learning theories, and classroom management. They were also required to complete a several month “practice” teaching experience under the guidance of an experienced teacher. After all of this, they were granted a “Provisional Teachers Certificate” which allowed them to teach. But in most states, additional training during several summers was required to get a permanent teachers certificate. All of this changed in 2010, when state and federal teaching standards laws were changed in order to allow TFA recruits to qualify as “highly qualified” teachers. It should be obvious that a recruit with only five weeks of training can not possibly be “highly qualified.” However, our Congress is so corrupt and so bought off by the billionaires, that on December 21, 2010, Congress amended federal law to change the definition of “highly qualified to include TFA recruits. This was despite the fact that (or because of the fact that) the federal appeals court in California twice ruled that TFA teachers are not highly qualified. The federal court also ruled that TFA recruits should not be concentrated in districts of high poverty and high disadvantage, where children actually need “highly qualified” teachers, not young college graduates with five weeks to training. For more on this subject, see Renee v. Duncan, decided on September 27, 2010, which struck down Arnie Duncan's crazy regulation that TFA recruits were highly qualified. Any Congress person who voted for this change is corrupt and should be voted out of office.
TFA Fake Teachers are replacing Real Teachers by the Thousands
TFA uses the false claim that there is a shortage of real qualified teachers to justify their fake teacher scam. Given that there are over 300,000 experienced teachers who are currently unemployed in the US, this claim is absurd. But education reform has never been about the facts. It is about robbing the tax payers of hundreds of millions of dollars while robbing students of their education and their future.
It has been estimated that since the Great Recession began in 2008, more than 300,000 real teachers have lost their jobs to huge State budget cuts. To be exact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, between 2009 and 2013, 324,000 education positions in local school districts were eliminated. https://www.cbpp.org/files/9-12-13sfp.pdf
Total education employees went from 8.1 million in 2009 to 7.8 million in 2013. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 3.3 million of these 8.1 million school employees were teachers – dropping to about 3 million full time public school teachers today. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=372
As the following chart shows, these jobs have not been restored during the claimed “economic recovery.”
This means that there are currently about 300,000 fully qualified and experienced real teachers without jobs. In addition, another 240,000 novice teachers graduate from Teachers Colleges around the United States each year. Even these novices have 5 years more training than TFA recruits. Given the abundance of real teachers, why would any school administrator, public or private, hire fake TFA teachers?
TFA Cheap, Fake Teachers are a Key Part of the Charter School Scam
TFA’s growth depends on and supports the country’s corrupt charter school movement. TFA teachers are non-union and work for much less than real teachers. They are therefore a key tactic in reducing the cost of teachers if the goal is making money rather than helping kids learn. Since the goal of charter schools is making money, it is not surprising that using TFA teachers has become common in charter schools. TFA data shows that 33% of its recruits now teach in charter schools (up from 13% in 2007). Charter schools are almost entirely nonunion, privately run, and can receive millions in private support on top of public funds. TFA has funneled a growing number of new recruits into charters in large urban school districts that have recently laid off hundreds of experienced teachers, including Philadelphia (where 99 percent of TFA recruits teach in charters), Detroit (69 percent) and Chicago (53 percent). According to USA Today, in March 2009, the superintendent of the Charlotte school district claimed that a contract signed with TFA required him to retain 100 TFA teachers despite the fact that the school district was firing hundreds of real school teachers due to budget cuts. Here is a headline from February 2014 about TFA replacing real teachers in New Jersey:
Between 2005 to 2010, New Orleans cut 7,500 school staff, converted its schools to charters, and increased its TFA fake teachers from 85 to 375.
In 2009, TFA came to Seattle Washington. Because of the 2008 economic crash, the Seattle school district has a huge surplus of laid off teachers: 13,800 teachers had applied for just 352 full- and part-time positions. One Seattle elementary school had nearly 800 unemployed teachers applied for a single teacher job. So there are plenty of qualified experienced teachers in Seattle with Masters Degrees in Education. But a corrupt school board elected by billionaires decided to bring in a bunch of TFA recruits. In school board meetings that were sometimes standing room only, dozens of community members — including parents, teachers and students — signed up in record numbers to testify against the district’s contract with TFA, urging the administration to hire more experienced local teachers. https://hechingerreport.org/content/teachers-losing-jobs-teach-americas-expanding-whats-wrong_15617/
In 2013, in Connecticut, hundreds of teaching jobs were given to out of state TFA recruits while graduates of Connecticut's 5-Year Teachers College program were not even allowed to apply for these jobs. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/29/how-teach-for-america-recruits-get-preference-for-teaching-jobs/
An Open Letter to TFA Recruits
In 2013, Chicago closed 48 schools and fired 850 teachers while hiring 350 TFA recruits to replace them. This is an edited version of an article written by a Chicago Special Education teacher called An Open Letter to TFA Recruits:
“We have no teacher shortages. We have teacher surpluses. And yet, TFA is still placing first year novices in places like Chicago. To put it bluntly, the last thing our students undergoing mass school closings, budget cuts, and chaotic school policy need is short-term, poorly-trained novices. Teach for America is not needed in Chicago. If you truly want to help children through teaching, give those future students the greatest chance possible by doing a full preparation program in advance of being left alone in a classroom. Those of us in the teaching profession will welcome bright young beginning teachers with open arms. And if you are not sure teaching is for you, volunteer in a school, tutor, participate in after-school programs. Whatever you do, do not allow TFA to let you learn how to teach on the backs of our neediest children, children living in poverty, children with disabilities, children who are still learning English, children living under oppression, racism, and savage inequalities. All children deserve a fully-prepared teacher for every day of their educational careers. Do not partner with the very people trying to destroy public education for their own personal gain.”
Katie Osgood, Special Education Teacher Chicago https://atthechalkface.com/2013/06/30/an-open-letter-to-new-teach-for-america-recruits/
TFA's Most Famous Ex Fake Teacher... Michelle Rhee
Michelle Rhee, one of the most corrupt and highly paid leaders of the ed Reform scam, attended a private high school and was a TFA recruit in the 1990's. The one and only year teacher reform super star Michelle Rhee actually taught, her Second Grade class was so out of control student and teacher yelling could be heard throughout the building. By her own admission, Michelle decided to put duct tape over the mouths of her students to prevent them from talking while walking to the school lunchroom. After removing the duct tape, skin came off their lips, they were bleeding and she had "thirty-five kids who were crying". https://voices.washingtonpost.com/dcschools/2010/08/michelle_rhee_first-year_teach.html
How did Michelle's abusive style of controlling young students work? Michelle Rhee's first year test scores for her abused students showed a precipitous drop: Average math percentile dropped from 64% to 17%. Average reading percentile dropped from 37% to 21%.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelle_A._Rhee
Despite this record of child abuse and low test scores, in 2007, Michelle Rhee was appointed as Chancellor of the Washington D.C. School District. She fired hundreds of teachers and replaced them with TFA teachers. During her three years in charge of DC schools, Michelle fired nearly 1,000 teachers. Videos and articles show that Michelle Rhee took great pride and even joy in firing teachers and closing schools. One time Michelle even invited a PBS news crew to secretly film Michelle firing a school principal. https://www.democraticunderground.com/1002714439
Here is the link to the Youtube video of this callous 26 second event:
The result of Michelle firing real teachers? 40% of the teachers in the Washington DC school district are now TFA teachers and test scores are falling.
Thankfully, there was a test score cheating scandal during Michelle's brief career that was exposed in USA Today. A new principal discovered that after school, staff members were changing answers on hundreds of tests in order to artificially inflate student scores. With greater security to prevent cheating, test scores at Washington DC schools fell dramatically. Hopefully, this will be the last that young children and their teachers will be exposed to abuse from Michelle Rhee.
Former TFA Recruits agree that the TFA Program is a Scam
Many former TFA recruits have come out against TFA and posted their stories on the Internet. Below are just a few examples.
“When I joined Teach For America I had no idea that my belief in social and economic justice was about to be cynically exploited by the corporate class. Today, seeing how it operates from the inside, I’m convinced that TFA now serves as a critical component of the all-out-effort by corporate elites to privatize one of the last remaining public institutions of our country: our public schools.”
“In Chicago, where I participated in TFA, the organization maintains its own extremely close partnerships with privately managed charter schools. Their relationships are so close, in fact, that earlier this year, after the Chicago Public School system closed forty-nine traditional, unionized public schools, claiming the schools were “underutilized,” it was revealed that TFA was working behind the scenes with a number of privately-managed, non-union charter school operators to open 52 new charter schools in Chicago over the next five years.
A Young TFA Recruit Goes to Washington DC
This is a letter from Jesse Hagopian, one of the leaders of Social Equality Educators (SEE) whose goal is to protect public schools from excessive high stakes testing and privatization. He is a teacher at Garfield High School in Seattle. He was originally a TFA recruit in 2001. Unlike over 90% of TFA recruits, Jesse stayed with teaching. Here is an edited version of his story posted in the Seattle Times on November 15 2010. “
From 2001 to 2003, I "taught for America." After graduating from college, I headed for the Bronx, N.Y., where I underwent Teach for America's (TFA) "teacher boot camp." With just five sleepless weeks of on-the-job training teaching summer school to fourth-graders, I was given the stamp of approval and shipped off to Washington, D.C. At 21, I found myself in a public elementary school in the ghetto of South East Washington, D.C. — in a classroom with a hole in the ceiling that caused my room to flood, destroying the first American history project I ever assigned the students. One lasting memory came on my third day of teaching sixth grade. I had asked the students to bring a meaningful object from home for a show-and-tell activity. We gathered in a circle and the kids sat eagerly waiting to share their mementos. One after another, each and every hand came out of those crumpled brown lunch sacks, clutching a photo of a close family member — usually a dad or an uncle — who was either dead or in jail. TFA didn't prepare me to address these challenges. With only five weeks of training, it wasn't just that I was not equipped to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of students with a wide range of ability levels, create portfolios that accurately assessed student progress, or cultivate qualities of civic courage — it was that I didn't even know that these things were indispensable components of an effective education. If school districts truly want "excellence for all," they will need highly trained teachers who have a lasting commitment to the profession — not the revolving door that has come to be known as "Teach for Awhile."
Here is another 2011 TFA recruit who quit:
"I assumed that I would learn the concrete steps I needed to become a teacher during the training program. Instead I was immersed in a sea of jargon, buzzwords, and touchy-feely exercises. One memorable session began with directions for us to mentally “become” two of our students. After an elaborate, 32-slide reflection guide, we were asked to close the session with a “Vision Collage,” for which we were handed pre-scripted reflections.
Typical instructional training included only the most basic framework; one guide to introducing new material told us to “emphasize key points, command student attention, actively involve students, and check for understanding.” We were told that “uncommon techniques” included “setting high academic expectations, structuring and delivering your lessons, engaging students in your lessons, communicating high behavioral expectations, and building character and trust.” Specific tips included “you provide the answer; the student repeats the answer”. After observing and teaching alongside non-TFA teachers at my placement school, I can confidently say that these approaches are not “uncommon.”
Once the school year began, I found myself teaching in a 500-student K–5 school with two other corps members and three TFA alumni. The school’s other 30 teachers had gone through some version of a traditional teaching program, involving years of studying educational theory and practice, as well as extensive student teaching. As I got to know my new colleagues and some level of trust was established, it didn't take long to discover that TFA's five-week training model was a source of resentment for these teachers. Although I felt bad that TFA had created a system that caused a rift between corps members and traditional teachers, I didn’t have much time to worry about that. The truth was, the five-week training program had not prepared me adequately.
I had few insights or resources to draw on when preteen boys decided recess would be the perfect opportunity to beat each other bloody, or when parents all but accused me of being racist during meetings. I was not alone in my trouble with student behavior. Gary Rubinstein, a 1991 TFA alum and an outspoken critic of the organization, believes TFA training sets teachers up for failure: TFA teachers “don’t know how to deal with discipline problems, because they’ve never dealt with a class with more than 10 kids—there’s no way to deal with so many potential problems when they’ve never been practiced.”
Although my group was assigned a veteran teacher during Institute, she did not have a substantive role in our training, and halfway through the summer she was implicated in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Compared with the experiences of other Teach for America teachers, though, my placement and training were actually fairly lucky. I know more than one Religious Studies major who arrived in Atlanta ready to teach elementary school, only to be told that she was being reassigned to teach high-school mathematics.
When I was once asked to fill in for an absent colleague, one of her second-graders chose to confide in me about his abysmal home life. He explained, with wide and trusting eyes, that his mother’s boyfriend enjoyed getting drunk, abusing the family, and shooting at the kids with a BB gun for fun.
I’d been at TFA training, about to head into this system, when the official report on the cheating scandal in the Atlanta Public Schools was released. My immediate reaction was shock that so many teachers could be complicit in something so outrageously dishonest. Midway through the school year, though, I came to understand exactly how it had happened. Atlanta Public Schools teachers spend countless hours teaching to exhaustion, spending their own money on classroom supplies, and buying basic necessities for their poorest students, only to be reminded constantly that their job performance will be judged according to test answers bubbled in by wobbly little fingers barely able to hold a pencil upright." https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/09/i-quit-teach-for-america/279724/
Here are comments from another former TFA recruit:
"TFA is notoriously brutal, and the workload is intense. In my first five months as a teacher, I juggled TFA meetings, school meetings, data tracking, a masters degree, and a full-time position as a professional Wrangler of 14-Year-Olds. I was promptly relocated from an under-enrolled charter school to a school bursting at the seams with eighth graders who had already seen two English teachers come and go. I would be their third teacher in six months. There was, I found, a reason for that, one that was not entirely the students’ fault.
The city where I taught lives and dies by a lowest-common-denominator standardized test, used primarily as a way to make everyone (administration, faculty, students) miserable. “We aren’t teaching to the test,” our administrators lied, “we are simply helping students do their very best.” The material was lackluster, and despite my best attempts to jazz it up, students were apathetic at best. I couldn’t blame them for that. I could, however, blame them for starting a fire in the back of my classroom. I could blame them for vandalizing my classroom. For breaking the door to my room, throwing objects at my head, and instructing me to “shut the fuck up, bitch” so often that I started playing a grim version of Teacher Bingo. I won if I heard it more than twice per period.
My principal, who visited my classroom exactly once, had some helpful advice for me. “Mr. ________ knows how to manage them!” she said, citing the 8th grade team leader, who had been teaching for 29 years, seven years longer than I had been alive. “Why don’t you act more like him?” Well. Okay.
The panic attacks began in mid-January. My heart became a percussionist, my entrails contortionists, my thoughts sluggish swimmers in a thick, constant current of dread. I fantasized about crashing my car on purpose. Already a vegan, I cut out sugar. I cut out gluten. Soon I cut out eating almost completely. I was caffeine and nerves, thrumming like a human electric wire. I didn’t think I would ever be happy again.
I joined TFA to be part of the solution. In leaving, I became a part of the problem. TFA’s model, predicated on a two-year commitment, is inherently flawed. High teacher turnover contributes to the disorganization, discipline problems, poor academic performance, and low morale of urban schools." https://thebillfold.com/2012/09/teach-for-america-burned-me-out/
Teach for America also TraumatizesTFA Teachers
As traumatic as having a fake TFA teacher is for students, it can be equally traumatic for an unprepared teacher. The following account has been edited from Rethinking Schools, 2010 by Barbara Miner who interviewed an anonymous former TFA recruit: “One of my good friends (who will remain anonymous for reasons you’ll discover below) recently suffered unbelievable physical, mental, and emotional abuse while teaching for an organization called Teach For America (TFA). She has since been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and her experience was by no means isolated—TFA cares little about the welfare of those who are trying to better the lives of others by signing up to teach. However, TFA has used every type of threat and scare tactic to prevent stories like this from getting out. Here is the story of this traumatized teacher:
"During my 5 week boot camp I was assigned to teach Algebra, despite my mathematical deficiencies (I got a D+ in the only math class I took in college). I was immediately thrown into a classroom teaching summer school. I hardly slept for those five weeks since every night was spent trying to learn the content and then figure out how to explain a concept I had just taught myself.
Upon going to my assigned region, I found headlines announcing that the school district had laid off hundreds of employees just weeks before school started. Nervous about what this meant for me, I contacted TFA and was assured that I would have a job. Hundreds of fully certified, experienced teachers were out of jobs, but me, an untrained novice teacher would have a position. It didn’t make sense to me. I waited two weeks. School started. And I waited another two weeks. Then the phone call came – I was going to start teaching on Monday, but I would not find out what I would teach until I showed up.
I did my best to prepare throughout the weekend. I crafted a lesson that could be adapted to multiple grade levels and subjects since the building houses 7-12 grades. But nothing could have prepared me for what I found when I arrived. When I arrived at the school on Monday morning and introduced myself, a man without introduction quickly walked me to a classroom and handed me a slip of paper stating which periods I would have students and that the title of the course was “Ramp Up Lit 8”. I had no clue what that meant. But before I could ask questions, the man was gone and I was alone in the room.
I surveyed the space, wondering how in the world I was going to make it look and feel like a safe learning environment. The walls and desks were boldly tagged with sexually explicit messages, catching your eye the moment you walked into the room. Most of the cabinets had their handles torn off, and the fronts from all the drawers were missing. The classroom appeared to have been used as a storage room for the school, with half the space being filled with stacks of tables, desks, and chairs. Scattered through the furniture were shards of broken glass, presumably from a fight which had broken out earlier. I quickly went about setting the desks into rows – fixing the upturned furniture and sorting out the broken pieces. Wondering how long I had until students arrived, I realized the classroom was equipped with a clock that could not keep time and was without a phone. I was completely isolated.
As students filed in, a nightmare began to unfold. Since school had started two weeks earlier, the students already had their routine down – they had disrespected substitutes and taken control of the room, turning it into the war zone I saw when I walked through the door. I had no class roster, so I had no way of knowing which students were actually supposed to be in my room or how many to expect. As though rehearsed, when asked for names, each student repeated the same false name and offered explicit commentary on me as a teacher (“I bet your boyfriend loves to f*** you up,” “How often does he f*** you?”, “I would top that”) and what they were going to do to me (“You won’t make it a week, we’ll make sure of that,” “We will run you out one way or another”).
During fourth period, things escalated. Nearly 35 students marched into my room (only 24 were registered for the class), each daring me to try to take control. As I started trying to teach, a student slipped out of his desk and turned off the lights in the room. Having no windows, the room became pitch black.
Screams and horrific noises immediately filled the air. I ran to the light switch to turn the lights on and discovered a large student standing in front of it that I had to physically fight to turn the lights back on. When I did, I found a scene of chaos. Students had been throwing desks, punching each other, and had taken everything from my desk and thrown it on the floor. I was outraged and made that clear to my students. However, they were unaffected. Ten minutes later, the exact same scene played out. Unsure what to do, I announced that the rest of the class time would be spent in silence and that students would be dismissed to lunch five minutes late. The class erupted in laughter. There was no silent time. And though I stood in front of the door at the dismissal bell, the students charged out, shoving me out of the way and partially trampling me.
I was determined to make the next day better. I explained what had happened to the principal, and he advised me to keep my cell phone on me at all times so if a problem arose I could quickly call for security. Sure enough, a fight broke out the next day. I pulled out my phone, dialed security, and stepped away to break it up. Three large security officers reported to my room. Yet that did nothing but escalate the problem – my students rose to their feet and began yelling at the officers who soon left my room without resolving the conflict. As the door closed behind them, I realized my cell phone had been stolen. Once again I was without protection as the class erupted into chaos. Fortunately, the principal, walking by and hearing the riot within my room, walked in and immediately expelled a student who was throwing a desk.
My third day, I went to the 8th grade administrator’s office and told him that I needed to resign. When I reported what had happened to TFA, they said they understood me taking the afternoon off but that I had to return to my classroom the next day. I was told that my contract did not make allowance for my requests and I needed to get back to work. Our conversation concluded with me saying I wanted and needed out of Teach For America.
I flew home the next day to be with my family. I spent days staring at the wall, terrified to leave my house. I could not handle being alone or being in the dark – I slept with the lights on and woke myself up screaming in response to nightmares of my students finding me. I was destroyed. I decided to write a blog post explaining to my family and friends in accurate detail what had happened. In an unbelievable disregard for my first amendment rights, TFA threatened to sue me if I didn’t remove the blog post immediately. Suddenly I realized why my initial research of the organization seemed so positive. TFA also informed me that since I had left the corps without a legitimate reason, I had 30 days to pay back all funds that I had received. In addition, they said that since I had left the corps, they were in no way responsible for what happened to me and I was on my own. They concluded that I was to blame for my violent classroom. It has now been three weeks since I walked out of my classroom, but I still feel trapped in the situation. The nightmares are real. The constant fear is inhibiting. And I have found that I am not alone in my experience. As documented by Dr. Barbara Torre Veltri in her book, Learning on Other People’s Kids: Becoming a Teach For America Teacher, hundreds and hundreds of Teach For America recruits have faced the same nightmare as me."
Former TFA Teachers Organize to Warn Potential Recruits of the Dangers
Many former TFA recruits are beginning to realize that they were deceived by TFA recruiters. They are beginning to fight back. . In July 2013 a group of former TFA recruits sponsored an event they called: “Organizing Resistance Against Teach for America and its Role in Privatization”.
Their mission is to “challenge the organization’s centrality in the corporate-backed, market-driven, testing-oriented movement in urban education.
Possible outcomes range from a push for school districts not to contract with TFA to counter-recruitment of potential corps members away from the program. The Chicago summit builds on the gamut of student, teacher, and community resistance to TFA aligned reform, including recent, successful push back against TFA itself. The summit is intended to be a kind of scaled-up roundtable with a political edge. The organizers emphasize that their purpose is not simply to call out TFA for inadequately training teachers—but to form a space for pushing back on the privatization movement that TFA anchors.
What is Next?
Now that we have seen the harmful effects of the TFA program on TFA teachers and their students, in the next section, we will look at the negative effect that billionaire funded teacher bashing has had on the morale of real teachers.