Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, February 6, 2015

Teach For America In Recruitment Crisis

From the NY Times:

Teach for America, the education powerhouse that has sent thousands of handpicked college graduates to teach in some of the nation’s most troubled schools, is suddenly having recruitment problems.

For the second year in a row, applicants for the elite program have dropped, breaking a 15-year growth trend. Applications are down by about 10 percent from a year earlier on college campuses around the country as of the end of last month.

The group, which has sought to transform education in close alignment with the charter school movement, has advised schools that the size of its teacher corps this fall could be down by as much as a quarter and has closed two of its eight national summer training sites, in New York City and Los Angeles.

And I'm sure that recruitment crisis has nothing to do with this:

The economic momentum evident late last year carried into 2015, the Labor Department said Friday, with American employers adding 257,000 jobs in January as wage growth rebounded and more people joined the workforce.

With new figures on the last two months of the year, 2014 turned out to be the strongest year for job gains since 1999. The government revised upward the already-healthy figures for payroll gains in November and December, increasing their estimate by 147,000. All told, the economy added, on average, 260,000 jobs a month over the course of the year. 1999.

“This is the best employment report we’ve had in a long time,” said Guy Berger, United States economist at RBS. “The labor market looks like it’s in really good shape as we head into 2015.”

Average hourly earnings rose 0.5 percent in January, the biggest monthly gain in more than six years, though it followed a disappointing increase in December that left the average for the two months running at just over 2 percent, in line with the recent trend.

Still, the overall picture was so strong, Mr. Berger said, that the Federal Reserve might begin its long-awaited move to raise short-term interest rates in June, a step many economists had been expecting to be delayed until September.

And indeed, the Times reports that is one of the problems:

Leaders of the organization say their biggest problem is that the rebounding economy has given high-achieving college graduates more job choices.

“It’s so different from three years ago, where suddenly you have candidates that may have an offer from Facebook and Wells Fargo and an offer to join the T.F.A. corps, and clearly, the money is going to be radically different,” said Lida Jennings, executive director of the Los Angeles office of Teach for America.

But this might be the bigger issue:

When Haleigh Duncan, a junior at Macalester College in St. Paul, first came across Teach for America recruiters on campus during her freshman year in 2012, she was captivated by the group’s mission to address educational inequality.

Ms. Duncan, an English major, went back to her dormitory room and pinned the group’s pamphlet on a bulletin board. She was also attracted by the fact that it would be a fast route into teaching. “I felt like I didn’t want to waste time and wanted to jump into the field,” she said.

But as she learned more about the organization, Ms. Duncan lost faith in its short training and grew skeptical of its ties to certain donors, including the Walton Family Foundation, a philanthropic group governed by the family that founded Walmart. She decided she needed to go to a teachers’ college after graduation. “I had a little too much confidence in my ability to override my lack of experience through sheer good will,” she said.

And of course the biggest might be that after years of attacks on teachers, the teaching profession and teacher benefits and job protections, it's just not a very appealing career choice:

Teaching in general has been losing favor. From 2010 to 2013, the number of student candidates enrolled in teacher training programs fell 12.5 percent, according to federal data.

Andrew Cuomo's about to make teaching an even less appealing career in New York State if he gets his reform agenda.

I can't see Cuomo's desire to link 50% of a teacher's ratings to test scores, fire them if they're deemed "ineffective" on those scores two years running by an NYSED algorithm, weaken tenure such that few teachers will ever get it and streamline the 3020a discipline process so that teaching becomes an at-will position will make the career, such as it is, more appealing.

Ed deformers have been very successful at transforming the teaching profession over the past ten years into a data-driven career with little autonomy and few protections - so successful that few people want to become teachers either in TFA or out.


  1. I have been teaching close to two decades. I have never met any TFAer that stuck around for more than a few years. A few of them literally told me to my face that they are planning on going to law or medical school when their two year commitment is up. Makes for great resume padding.

  2. Less bodies available for the classroom? This cycle is getting old, but less bodies means job security for teachers in the trenches.
    It's like the old cars in Cuba. Can't get a replacement car? Keep the old one running until it becomes a beloved, valuable vintage car.

    1. 3:40

      Security for teachers is at an all time low.

    2. When I first started teaching, they were importing teachers from Canada, the Caribbean, etc. Within a few years, they were looking to dump those teachers because the "shortage" had been solved. It's a fickle thing, relying on the job market and the economy to make teaching more palatable, but it may help in the long term. Short term, probably not.

    3. "When I first started teaching, they were importing teachers from Canada, the Caribbean, etc. "
      When I first started teaching, the girls I knew who were aware of me wanting to become a teacher would say, "Awwwwwww, that's so nice that you want to help kids." The guys would always say something along the line of: "That's cool I guess. I would never do that. You get paid sh-t!

  3. I have had hangovers that last longer than most TFAers stick around for.

    1. No offense, but that must have been some drinking binge!

  4. You wrote: "Ed deformers have been very successful at transforming the teaching profession over the past ten years into a data-driven career with little autonomy and few protections - so successful that few people want to become teachers either in TFA or out."

    It seems to me that part of the reform-agenda is to make teaching as bad as 'private sector' work, thus realizing the Thatcherite slogan. Right now there are a few of what might be called 'last vestiges of socialism' (in the good sense) left in the economy, teaching is one of them--what teachers get is in many ways the bare minimum of what all workers deserve. Summer vacation and due process makes the bourgeoisie nervous. They want to abolish leisure and dignity for us wage slaves. They no longer have a USSR to compete with or a revolution to prevent...or so they would like to believe...

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. It's possible that eventually the only people TFA will be able to recruit will only be the sociopaths and narcissists who care only about the promised stepping stones to a higher paying job outside of education.

    As word spreads about the fraud and real goals based on greed and power of this outfit, the real teachers will opt out and take the traditional route to teaching.

    Real teachers are empathic and they care about the children they work with and not the sociopaths and/or narcissists who are only interested in themselves and are marking off the days on the calendar ready to leave the moment they qualify so they can move out and up to more $$$$$. TFA recruits, who leave as soon as they can, want to be the next Michelle Rhee so they can earn millions and end up with their face on the cover of Time Magazine. Children are just stepping stones to them.