By Ben Velderman
Teach for America is a non-profit organization that recruits top college graduates from various fields and gives them a crash-course in the ways of teaching children. After a few weeks of intensive training, the top-notch candidates are placed in troubled K-12 districts for at least two years.
TFA has been around for nearly 25 years, and has made a positive impact on the lives of children who are stuck in subpar schools.
McDonnell wants Virginia’s neediest students to benefit from the successful program.
“A significant achievement gap still exists between our students,” McDonnell said during his announcement. “While the task will not be easy, TFA has been successful in working with schools to close the achievement gap.”
If state lawmakers sign off on McDonnell’s plan, TFA teachers could start showing up in Virginia schools next fall.
Perhaps that’s why teacher union leaders aren’t wasting any time in panning the idea.
“Traditionally, that’s a program that we haven’t been very fond of,” Fairfax Education Association President Michael Hairston told the Washington Examiner.
Hairston doesn’t like the fact that many TFA teachers move on to their chosen profession (or graduate school) after their two-year teaching commitment is up.
“All the studies say that teachers really come into their own after they’ve been around for a while,” Hairston said.
That may be true for typical teachers, by TFA educators aren’t typical. These young men and women are gifted individuals who have worked exceedingly hard to be among the best college graduates in the nation. They’re willing to delay their personal plans (which likely include plumb job offers) in order to serve their country in this unique manner.
Where’s the controversy in that?
There is none, except in union-land. The labor groups don’t like the fact that TFA members are entirely focused on helping students. These enthusiastic upstarts don’t have time or interest in joining the union “brotherhood,” which is fixated on protecting the financial interests of adult school employees and advancing a hardline political agenda.
And that’s why the unions try to block TFA from expanding its reach, which currently includes 46 urban and rural regions across the country.