Saturday, May 28, 2011

Teach For America: From Service Organization to Self-Promoting Industry

Rachel Levy a self-described former teacher, writer, and stay-at-home mom recently wrote an excellent article on Teach for America on her blog, "All Things Education." Many education writers, including Diane Ravitch and Kenneth J. Bernstein, view it as the best article to date on the Teach for American program. Here are some excerpts from the article:

"If the impact of TFA teachers is not entirely clear, their rates of attrition and financial costs are. According to the review of literature cited earlier, fifty percent of Teach for America teachers leave after two years and eighty percent leave after three. They don’t become lifelong teachers or even ten-year teachers. Their improved effectiveness would only come into play after they would have left. Since the corps members don’t stick around long enough for their students to benefit from their experience, TFA doesn’t, in fact, ultimately lead to higher teacher quality.

TFA teachers cost taxpayers more money than traditionally educated teachers. The afore-mentioned review  shows that the average cost of a TFA teacher is $70,000 per recruit. Public school districts are paying twice for recruiting: from $2,000 to $5,000 to TFA per recruit plus funding recruitment by their internal human resources departments. Recruitment costs should be one-time expenditures, but at the current rate of attrition, districts must pay anew every time a TFA teacher leaves. According to Barbara Miner’s investigations, on top of their school district-paid salaries, Teach for America candidates also receive taxpayer-funded Americorps stipends, plus because of their TFA member status, they qualify for funding that people who take traditional teacher training routes don’t. Finally, TFA receives millions in local, state, and federal dollars. TFA annual reports show that about a third of costs are borne by the public—add in a $50,000,000 grant they received from the Department of Education this past spring, and that share has probably risen. How can the federal government subsidize a jobs program for the privileged as it struggles to extend unemployment benefits for those who have lost their jobs?"

Continue Reading the Full Article:
Teach for America: From Service Organization to Self-Promoting Industry