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This is an unintentionally hilarious story. Teach for America has created a rapid response unit to reply to critics and protect their brand.
Instead of listening to thoughtful critics like Gary Rubinstein, they plan to spend half a million or more to dispute him. Hey, Gary, you are scaring them!
A nonprofit group has begun a public relations campaign to defend Teach for America against critics of the program that places newly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the country’s most challenging classrooms.
The new campaign, called Corps Knowledge, is an offshoot of the New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), a network that supports public charter schools and school choice and wants to weaken teacher tenure laws.
Derrell Bradford, NYCAN’s executive director, said the campaign aims to counter attacks on Teach for America’s image, which some people loyal to the program think has been damaged by “a few disgruntled alumni” and other critics.
Several TFA alumni have written negatively about their experiences, saying that TFA’s five-week training session did not adequately prepare them for teaching in struggling schools and that the two-year commitment that TFA requires adds to the teacher churn in high-needs schools.
So, TFA chooses not to listen to its alumni who say they were ill-prepared by five weeks of training for the challenges of the classroom.
And TFA thinks that its two-year commitment does not add to teacher churn in high-need schools.
Why would anyone spend $500,000-$1,000,000 to say that these criticisms are wrong? Why not think about it? Does TFA believe that a recent college graduate with five weeks of training should be responsible for children with disabilities? Do they think no special training is necessary? Are they saying that people who earn an M.A. or a doctorate in special education have wasted their time?
Does TFA ever reflect on its constant boasting? Does TFA ever feel a little bit ashamed of claiming that any TFA recruit is superior to an experienced teacher? Do their recruits have nothing to learn?
Has TFA ever wondered why its stars promote charters and vouchers and high-stakes teacher evaluations? It appears that TFA dislikes public schools and teachers who make a career of teaching. Why do they like VAM? Is it because TFA teachers don’t hang around long enough to get a VAM rating? Why are they opposed to teacher tenure? Is this a by-product of their low opinion of experienced teachers or are they just thinking of themselves, knowing they will never stay around long enough to acquire tenure?
Instead of mounting an expensive campaign to refute Gary Rubinstein, they should talk to him. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful and considerate people I have ever met. He also has a great sense of humor. If TFA listened to him, I bet they would learn a lot. At the very least, they should try to find out why one of the original members of TFA has become a critic. They will never know unless they listen.