Perspectives on TFA in its 20th Year
The nonprofit organization, which sprang from a thesis that founder Wendy Kopp wrote in college, now provides teachers for some 500,000 urban and rural students each year and is a major employer of recent graduates of elite colleges and universities.
TFA is celebrated by many as an innovative force in K-12 education. But critics question its short-term teaching commitments—two years—and say its recruits, though well educated and well intentioned, aren’t sufficiently prepared for the classroom. In 2011, TFA boasts of ever-more-intensive work in teacher preparation and development and of what it sees as the organization’s long-term impact on policy and practice.
To mark TFA’s 20th-anniversary year, 2010-11, Education Week’s Commentary editors sought out a variety of perspectives on Teach For America and its effects on teachers, students, and schools. For more on TFA, read Education Week's news coverage of the organization.
TFA COVERAGE FROM THE EDUCATION WEEK ARCHIVES
Teach For America: Success or 'Disservice'? (July 31, 1991)
Teacher Corps Alumni Reflect on the Past, Plan for the Future (January 25, 1995)
Ten Years of Teach For America (February 14, 2011)
Most Likely To Succeed (April 25, 1995)
Study Finds Benefits in Teach For America (June 16, 2004)
Growth Model (September 16, 2009)
Teach For America Supporters Call for a 'Revolution' (February 14, 2011)
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Here are some of the organization’s milestones:
- 1989 | Wendy Kopp proposes the idea for Teach For America in her senior thesis at Princeton University.
- 1990 | H. Ross Perot grants $500,000 to TFA, which provides enough funding to launch the program.
- 1990 | Initial corps of 500 members begins teaching 35,000 students in six regions of the United States.
- 2007 | Wendy Kopp launches Teach For All, a global network of organizations that helps implement and adapt the TFA model abroad.
- 2008 | Congress passes the Teach For America Act, authorizing annual federal funding for TFA.
- 2010 | TFA corps membership reaches 8,200 teachers, who will instruct more than 500,000 students.
- 2010 | TFA receives a U.S. Department of Education Investing in Innovation, or i3, grant.
- 2011 | TFA receives 48,000 applications, the most in its history.
- MARCH 2, 2011 | Congress eliminates $18 million in federal aid for TFA in a stopgap spending bill.
SOURCES: Teach For America; Education Week
- Associate Director, Research and Assessment
- American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), Alexandria, VA
- Program Officer, Teacher Development
- KSTF, Moorestown, NJ
- Assistant Principal
- The SEED Public Charter School of Washington, DC, DC
- Chief Legal Officer & Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Curriculum
- DeKalb County School District, DeKalb, GA
- Principal - Elementary, Middle, & High
- Fulton County Schools, Atlanta, GA