There seems to be an awful lot of confusion among the 9,000 delegates at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly over how the Teach For America program works.
The catalyst for this discussion: A new business item that would have directed the NEA to encourage TFA to increase its corps members’ commitment from two to three years and to require such members to complete a certified teacher-preparation program.
Nearly 45 minutes of discussion ensued. Some delegates asserted that the program contained a loan-forgiveness element, and NEA Executive Director John Wilson had to step up to the microphone to tell them that participating in TFA has nothing to do with loans.
Other delegates wanted to know the retention rates for corps members after their two-year commitments were up. NEA President Dennis Van Roekel put the figure at 33 percent, attributing the figure to TFA founder Wendy Kopp. (Can someone from TFA let us all know if that’s correct?)
Another interesting tidbit: A Delaware delegate said that districts in his state are laying off teachers and hiring TFAers. I wrote about a similar situation in North Carolina, but hadn’t heard anything about Delaware. Have you?
The item, in any case, failed to pass.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.