Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 12 2013

#67: Portrait of a cynic as a young man

I came across a TFA corps member’s old letter of intent, and in addition to showcasing some grade A positivity pablum, it featured this utterly disgraceful passage:

I’ve been following Teach for America for several years.  Alum (sic) like Michelle Rhee(1) at DC Public Schools or KIPP founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin have used their experience at TFA to transform the educational landscape.  While what they do is certainly not short on controversy, I do not question their motive: they see an imbalance, an inequality of opportunity that, if ignored or ineptly addressed, will handicap the futures of a generation.  They are doing something to change that.

Teach for America is more than just getting teachers into the classroom, but recruiting quality teachers and getting them where they are needed most.  The hiring of effective teachers is the single most important step principals can take to improve the academic outcomes of their students.

Ugh, what a cretin. I hope this person blah blah okay, you got me, this was me over three years ago. Ta-da, I used to drink Kool-Aid(1) but I’m all better now!

I’m posting this for the 2013 corps members who are just starting things this summer and can only muster cautious optimism. You are going to have so much positivity blasted at you and you will be impervious to its charms. I don’t care how critical a thinker you believe yourself to be, you will be cheering at pep rallies and buying t-shirts for a school you will never set foot in again. And it’s okay! You will start your teaching career and be hit by a two-by-four of realness. You’ll start asking questions like “Why did I learn so little at Institute?” and “Why is everyone who works at TFA barely old enough to rent a car?” You will find your cynical mojo again, I promise.


(1) I am humbling myself to admit publicly that I once admired Michelle Rhee. I was in college, I was just experimenting!

(2) Now I stick to tepid tap water, the drink of choice for true TFA haters.

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