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Teach for America

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Teach For America was launched in 1990 by Wendy Kopp and "is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity." [1]

Controversies

Lapses in recordkeeping

By 2008, the group had 5,000 teachers-in-training and a $75 million budget, with one third of it coming from U.S. taxpayers through local school districts, state and the federal government. The group failed to account for half of that money, however. A CBS News report found that TFA had no basic records or receipts, even for a $123,878 training expense or a $342,428 bill. A government audit showed TFA failed to keep any records on expenditures of a quarter of a million taxpayer dollars apparently spent on food and lodging ($277,262) and $26,812 for teacher certification. Auditors found no documentation that any teachers actually attended and completed the class, or that there even was a class at all. TFA vice president Kevin Huffman attributed the audit's unsatisfactory findings to poor record keeping. He later supplied more documentation regarding the expenses, but those documents contained discrepancies that made the matter worse. Taxpayer advocates expressed astonishment that TFA had become such a large organization with such faulty bookkeeping practices.[2][3]

Charges of pushing out older, more experienced teachers

Critics say that TFA's growth in many cities comes at the expense of pushing more experienced teachers out of their jobs — in some cases, they say, to make room for TFA, which brings teachers in at beginners' salary levels and underwrites their training. In Boston, TFA corps members replaced 20 teachers who had been fired, according Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman, who said, "These are people who have been trained, who are experienced and who have good evaluations, and are being replaced by brand-new employees." Stutman reported that he had met with about 18 other local union presidents, all of whom said they'd seen teachers laid off to make room for TFA members. Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., schools Superintendent Peter Gorman told board members he had laid off hundreds of teachers but spared 100 TFAers because the district "made a commitment to this program." In May, 2009, Last May, 2009 John Wilson, executive director of the National Education Association, the USA's largest teachers union, sent a memo saying union leaders were "beginning to see school systems lay off teachers and then hire TFA college grads due to a contract they signed."[4]

Conflicts with Unions and charges of union-busting

The Boston Teachers Union filed a complaint against TFA in 2009 charging that TFA's contract gave specific advantages to TFA corps members above and beyond those afforded teachers who belonged to the Union. The Boston School superintendent agreed, announced that the district never intended any preferential treatment, and said the TFA contract would be adjusted. TFA agreed to make the changes.[5]

Concerns have been raised that TFA is being used to bust unions. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, for example, thousands of teachers were fired (not merely laid off) and replaced with Teach for America corps members, who worked for less money.[6]



Funders

TFA publishes a list of its funders on its web site. Among TFA's largest funders (in the $10 million group) are the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart). Other high-dollar funders include the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, the Doris & Donald Fisher Fund and Rainwater Charitable Funds and Martha and Bruce Karsh.

Corporate funders giving between $1 million and $5 million:

Other corporate funders include (partial list):

Directors

TFA also gets funding from the U.S. government through AmeriCorps.[9]

Criticism

TFA has been criticized, and praised by some, for increasing the supply of young, enthusiastic, non-unionized teachers working in school systems across the U.S. [10] Teach For America also has started supplying teachers to charter schools, which don't allow teaches to unionize.[11]

Contact

315 West 36th Street
7th Floor
New York, NY 10018
Phone: 212-279-2080
Fax: 212-279-2081
Web: http://www.teachforamerica.org

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. About Us, Teach for America, accessed July 7, 2007
  2. Sharyl Attkisson Teach For America Gets Schooled: Organization That Trains Teachers Gets A Failing Grade For Its Accounting Skills, CBS News, July 11, 2008
  3. Katie Couric Teach for America Questions, Follow the Money, CBS News video, August 4, 2008
  4. Jack Gruber Teach for America: Elite corps or costing older teachers jobs?, USAToday, July 29, 2009
  5. Chadwick Matlin Teach for America Gets a Timeout, blog, October 15, 2009
  6. Wade Rathke (founder of ACORN) Teach 4 America: Union Busters?, blog, August 18, 2009
  7. Teach for America About Us/Donors, organizational web page, accessed March 25, 2011
  8. Boards, Teach for America, accessed July 7, 2007
  9. Elizabeth C. Bloom The TFA Party, the Harvard Crimson, March 22, 2011
  10. Elizabeth C. Bloom The TFA Party, the Harvard Crimson, March 22, 2011
  11. Alejandra Cancino Teach For America supplies charter schools, Chicago Tribune, September 27, 2010