Teach For America has been a long sought out post-graduation opportunity for many college seniors seeking secure employment. The education program that serves troubled schools in rural and inner-city communities is currently having recruitment issues, reports the The New York Times. For a second year in a row Teach For America (TFA) applicants have dropped 10 percent on college campuses. The co-chief executive of Teach For America Matt Kramer shared, “I want the numbers to be higher, because the demand from districts is extremely high and we’re not going to meet it this year it is not existentially concerning.” Most recently, TFA has closed two of its summer training sites in New York City and Los Angeles. Their teaching corps has also decreased by a quarter.
Also known for their highly selective process, this past year TFA only accepted 15 percent of its applicants. Kramer says the organization does not plan to lower its standards to gain more corps members. Others note the decline in applications because of its similarities to the Peace Corps. Federal data also reports from 2010-2013 all teaching training programs intake dropped 12.5 percent. Another factor: applicants may not want to go through the rigorous training and standardized testing in order to become a teacher.
Haliegh Duncan, a junior at Macalester College told the New York Times she was excited to apply for TFA. However once she began to research the program she grew skeptical of it. She decided it would be best to go to a teacher’s college after graduation in order to enter the education field. Other criticisms TFA have faced were from teachers unions, school districts and policy makers who believe the program is unstable. By placing corps members in teaching positions in the poorest neighborhoods with only five weeks of training and a contractual agreement of two years of service, students may not receive a consistent education standard.
In order to retain teachers, TFA has begun to provide fellowships to corps members who extend their service past the two-year mark. TFA has decided to recruit college juniors in order to provide a longer teaching training as well.
Have you applied to Teach For America or are alumni of the program? Share your thoughts on TFA’s recruitment issues.