Is TFA still a good idea?

The New York Times’ Room for Debate blog is known for asking provocative questions and soliciting opinions from a wide range of voices. This week, they ask, In its second decade, is Teach for America (TFA) still a good idea?

Responses vary widely:

  • Julian Vasquez Heilig of the University of Texas at Austin calls TFA a “glorified temp agency,” and thinks it should require a five- to seven-year commitment and certification.
  • Malissa Yung-Grubb Mootoo, an assistant principal in New York City, feels the program spreads its first- and second-year members thin, and outside coursework should be better paced to avoid burnout.
  • Ketica Guter, teacher of seven years and former corps member, hopes to help disadvantaged kids the same way a TFA member once helped her as a student in the 9th Ward in New Orleans.
  • Alex Caputo-Pearl, teacher for 20 years, inaugural TFA corps member, and current board member of the LA Teachers’ Union, feels TFA has changed from a service-oriented to a political organization, and that its quick-fix model of reform is harming urban schools.
  • Olga Serpas, taught by a TFA member as a student and a colleague of TFA members as a teacher, thinks the program’s “parachute approach” is not ideal, but “worth trying.”
  • Jessica Amos, taught by TFA recruits and now a college freshman, says the program exposes disadvantaged students to teachers from all demographics; the departure of one teacher leads to the arrival of another with just as much to offer. [PEN Weekly]

To see the full discussion, visit: