It was my fifth grade year.
It was a lousy classroom. Kids throwing books across the desk. Paper on the floor, pencils broken. This became routine for the rest of the year and I hardly recall learning anything. What I did remember was a young, insecure teacher that spent most of her time either hiding under her desk or on the phone calling for an assistant principle.
Yes, she was white. Yes, she was not from this urban Southwest community in Houston. And yes, she was from Teach for America.
I don’t like Teach for America.
In fact, I think it is one of the most corrupt non-profits in the country. Not only for giving me one of the worst teachers in my entire academic life, but most likely giving other children the same.
To continue to place a great number of insecure, incompetent, and unaware young adults into some of the most struggling tier one schools in the country is ludicrous. Even worse, the fact that many of those “teachers” come into the profession not fully invested in what they can give the students is even more disgusting.
Let’s get real, Teach for America is trying to fill the teaching gap by bribing and manipulating college graduates. I understand that there is a decline in real teachers in this country. Many of them are not coming at the speed at which these schools are increasing and that is troublesome.
However, recruiting students from different fields of interests and disciplines to try to “test it out” or “try something different” doesn’t help solve the problem, but add to it. Adding a consistent flow of lackluster talent to the field weakens the overall performance. I rather have 50 passionate teachers than 100 under-performing.
Furthermore, many people treat Teach for America like it is a military service for nerds that will launch their further political or professional careers. I overheard someone in a career fair say “TFA is a good look for applying to Fortune 500 companies after completion.”
So in other words, these struggling youth are great puppets to help play into your get rich quick scheme?
And why should any of you care? Because for far too long this program have encroached upon our education system and have hurt many of the kids that need help the most.
I was one of those children. I sat endlessly in a classroom with a teacher who didn’t understand my socioeconomic status, who didn’t know how to connect with a classroom of 30 kids that looked for mentoring, support, teaching, inspiration, care…and every other thing that many tier one schools in this nation lack.
It wasn’t her fault that she was a lousy teacher because in all honesty she truly wasn’t one. Her passion was obviously Wall Street. Looking on her desk, I remember seeing the Wall Street Times and business magazines. I remember her being an economics major or at least very passionate about it.
A person like that shouldn’t be given access to the lives of children who need more than an economist but that of a teacher, mentor, parent, councilor and beyond. Real teachers wear all of those hats and the training that Teach for America provides cannot instill those kinds of values and traits in anyone. That comes naturally and is intrinsic.
Overall, I am not saying that everyone Teach for America selects is virtually worthless, but in context the program itself is stealing from this country. It is stealing from the potential and time that many of my fellow classmates could have had.
Imagine if we would have had a real teacher in that room, how much my life would have been different. We would not have had the principle come in every day or have kids distract as much. We would have had a higher self-esteem and felt confident in our work because we would have had someone there to encourage us. I was fortunate to have the rebound of my mother to guide me through, but for many of my 5th grade peers, there just was no asylum.
Or perhaps maybe they will get a great teacher: one that truly cares for them and might decide to stay and continue. Or they may not. Or they may possibly. Either way, Teach for America has now created a gamble for what happens to the most vulnerable children in the nation and while the world continues see it rank in millions of dollars to fund this self-destructing system, perhaps we should all step back and demand for it to stop.
So I will now.
If you believe in real education, you cannot support Teach for America. If you actually believe that every child deserve access to a real teacher that is willing to care, you would not put them at risk for incompetency. And if you actually do not want to repeat the horrible experience that I had when growing up for others, you would not allow any organization to gamble with the education of any child.
Teach for America, it’s time you take your pseudo education solution back to the chalk board for a reality check.