The following comment was recently submitted and approved to one of my previous posts:
“We have 550 Teach For America teachers in the Delta this year, and the 60% who stay in education after their two-year commitment aren’t staying in Mississippi… they’re going to charter schools in other states. You tell me: are kids in the Delta better off or worse off when we’re bleeding some of our most passionate young teachers to other states’ charter schools?”
Thus enters the newest player in Mississippi’s ongoing charter school debate — the national organization called Teach For America.
Teach For America recruits college grads from around the country to teach in high-poverty areas like the Mississippi Delta for a minimum of two years. A degree in Education is not required of TFA “Corps Members”, although, according to this article from the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, TFA members receive the same salary and benefits as a first-year traditional teacher with a four-year degree in Education.
In today’s post, you will hear no criticisms of the good work that TFA’ers are doing in the areas of our state that need the most help. As for me, I could not last two days in any classroom, much less two years. I applaud the efforts of not only the 520 TFA’ers working in Mississippi, but the more than 33,000 traditional K-12 teachers in our state — many of whom are career educators who have been fighting the good fight for as long as I have been alive.
What I would like to talk about, however, is the connection between Teach For America and the push for charter schools in the Magnolia State and across the country.
The reader who submitted the above comment is a former TFA’er who recently taught at Greenwood High School(I know this because we follow each other on Twitter and frequently discuss education). Interestingly enough, he is now employed as Communications Director for the state’s leading critic of public education/proponent of charter schools, the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.
At the national level, the founder and CEO of Teach For America is married to the President of the KIPP foundation, which serves one of the nation’s largest chain of charter schools(including Mississippi charter proponents’ poster child of “school choice”, the Kipp Delta Prep school in neighboring Arkansas).
The connections between TFA and the movement for charter schools are obvious. The question is “why”?