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Teacher Preparation

TFA Critic Hints at Plans to ‘Disrupt’ Training

By Liana Loewus — May 15, 2012 1 min read
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Gary Rubinstein, author of the blog post “Why I Did TFA, and Why You Shouldn’t,” which went viral after it was posted in October, buries an enticing tidbit in his recent blog post:

Depending on how much free time I'll have this summer, I might be helping organize new TFA corps members to be 'disrupting' the institute if they are not getting properly trained or are feeling like they are being lied to in various ways—more to come on that in June.

‘Institute,’ to a TFAer, is the boot-camp-style training that incoming corps members attend for five weeks over the summer.

It’s easy to imagine what that sort of disruption could look like (staged protests, sit-ins, refusal to attend seminars, etc.) but it’s a bit harder to imagine how Rubinstein could convince new corps members to participate. (In full disclosure, I, like Rubinstein, am a TFA alum.) Many people who join Teach for America head straight from their college graduation to institute. They take on the significant financial burden of traveling to institute for an unpaid summer of training and then relocating to wherever they will teach—over half of new TFAers accept an interest-free loan from TFA to do so. While at institute, they are ostensibly in an at-will relationship with TFA. Would you risk getting kicked out of the corps to participate in a “disruption,” knowing you could be left jobless and in debt to the organization? And having likely never taught before, would you even know if you were not getting proper training?

Also, there are nine institutes across the country. Would a rebellion by a handful of corps members ruffle any TFA feathers at the national level?

Seems we’ll have to wait till next month to find out ...

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.