Teach for America has been a breath of fresh air in some of America’s worst schools. The program, founded 20 years ago, recruits the best and brightest college graduates to commit to being teachers for at least two years in dozens of inner city schools around the country.
Studies have shown that students in classes with TFA teachers did demonstrably better on math tests than students in non-TFA classrooms. Many TFA teachers continue beyond their two year commitment.
TFA teachers, by their very nature, are go-getters. Most were excellent university students who could have gone straight into high-paying careers, but chose to spend some of their early years working with American youth. They do what it takes to get the job done. They’ll stay beyond the final bell. They essentially toss the collective bargaining agreement out the window. It’s that type of drive that gives heartburn to union organizers who want the school to operate according to the contract.
Washington Post columnist George Will called Teach For America “a template for transformation.”
Randi Weingarten recently praised TFA in Education Week, saying:
Teach for America has attracted thousands of highly educated, idealistic young people to undertake one of the toughest jobs out there in some of the most challenging environments.
Educators are all in this together. One group should not be pitted against another, when our focus must be on the devastating cuts that threaten great harm to a generation of children.
So consider this skunk at the garden party. Leo Casey, vice president the New York City United Federation of Teachers, seems to believe that TFA is somehow bad because too many of the teachers are white. The film clip of his comments comes from EAGtv:
The teaching force in New York City has become steadily whiter under [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg and [former schools Chancellor Joel] Klein and it is connected I think in significant measure to the use of groups like Teach for America which are significantly whiter than the teaching force.
Yes, at the socialist-organized Left Forum, Casey tossed the race card on the table, accusing Teach For America of “whitening” New York City public schools.
Teach For America told EAGtv that its members comprise less than 1% of the teaching force in New York City and about 60% TFA members are white. Those facts are merely a distraction to Casey in his racial smear campaign.