by Lacy Compton
Lately, more and more articles have been popping up from TFA alumni, discussing the tribulations and troubles of the often-praised program that places young, inexperienced teachers in some of the nation’s toughest schools.
I wasn’t surprised to see yet another criticism of TFA, but the headline of the news article in yesterday’s The Atlantic immediately stood out to me. Why?
I quit Teach for America.
Nearly 10 years have passed since I went through the summer training for TFA, planning to be a teacher in New York City. I won’t go into the details—as most of them are eerily similar to those in Olivia Blanchard’s article (and others’ accounts)—but I can tell you that TFA couldn’t make me ready to be a full-time classroom teacher in just a few weeks’ time (in fact, they thrust us in an inner-city Bronx summer school classroom after just one week of training, most of which was to get to know your team members and feel-good diversity discussions).
As a journalism major who spent my college years deeply involved in my university newspaper, I had no prior education coursework or training (except a little tutoring and volunteer work here and there) before attending the TFA institute. After a few weeks of training, I wasn’t ready, and I knew it. So I quit before I even had a teacher placement.
That’s why Blanchard’s article, which pinpoints the lack of “real” teacher training received during TFA’s summer institute, stuck with me so strongly. And, out of the many, many articles that have come out about TFA recently (including several from our own Prufrock author, Gary Rubinstein), that’s why I’m sharing it here.
I hope it sticks with you too.