By Robert Ascherman and Karen Li
Starting tomorrow, USAS is launching the next stage in our campaign to fight back against corporate robber barons of education reform on our campuses: the Teach for America Truth Tour. The tour will visit 15 campuses to expose the truth about TFA: not only does it fail to prepare teachers for the classroom, but it is systematically pushing to replace our system of community public education and replace it with an alternative largely controlled by profit-seeking corporations.
Imagine your favorite professor. Now imagine that this professor will be replaced by someone who has only been trained for 5 weeks and will only be at your university for two years. They don’t know anything about you, they don’t know anything about the community at your university, and they don’t know anything about your life and how it relates to your capacity to learn. Now imagine that this isn’t happening just to your favorite professor, but to every professor at your university. As you can tell, this is a situation that would devastate and destabilize your university.
That’s what’s happening in K-12 public education. For example, in Chicago the Board of Education slashed the budget for schools and fired teachers, yet increased its financing of TFA from $600,000 to $1.6 million and brought in over 300 TFA corps members. In Newark, the superintendent, an TFA alumnus, is likely to fire 700 teachers and replace most of them with TFA corps members. But as one study noted, TFA “is best understood as a weak Band-Aid that sometimes provides some benefits but that is recurrently and systematically ripped away and replaced.”
In order to operate, TFA depends on its partnerships with universities to get corps members certified to teach in each state. While teaching, corps members must attend classes at a university, which in some programs can lead to a master’s degree. In effect, TFA uses our universities’ names to make up for its own weak training programs and convince state boards of education that its members are “highly qualified” to teach.
But students are refusing to allow this to happen any longer. We are joining together with parents, teachers, and TFA alumni to expose the truth about TFA.
The TFA Truth Tour is just part of a larger campaign by USAS, our allies at Students United for Public Education, and the many TFA alumni who are beginning to organize and speak out against the organization, and is only the beginning of a growing groundswell of opposition to TFA’s destructive effect on our public schools.
TFA Truth Tour Itinerary
3/24/2014 George Mason University
3/24/2014 American University
3/25/2014 University of Pennsylvania
3/25/2014 Temple University
3/26/2014 New York University
3/26/2014 Hunter College
3/26/2014 Seton Hall University
3/27/2014 Boston University
3/28/2014 Harvard University
3/31/2014 University of Minnesota
3/31/2014 Macalester College
3/31/2014 Hamline University
4/2/2014 University of Wisconsin
4/3/2014 University of Illinois at Chicago
4/3/2014 University of Chicago