Controversial Corps Regroups
Instead, TFA will transfer that responsibility to a spinoff organization it created last year called TEACH!, which will operate independently and take on, among other functions, further training and evaluation of recruits. Wendy Kopp, who founded the corps in 1989 when she was a senior at Princeton University, has hinted that she will probably move to the newer organization sometime after the transition is complete.
Though criticized by some for placing pedagogically underprepared individuals in the classroom, TFA also has many supporters who praise its efforts to recruit bright, young college graduates to teaching. "When we first started out five years ago, this was a simple concept,'' Kopp says. "But there have been constantly building expectations about what TFA can take on as an organization. We just came to the realization that we don't think [we] can sustain an $8.5- million budget.''
TFA, she said, will once again focus its resources on meeting the needs of school districts with persistent teacher shortages. The corps will still recruit and place new members, organize national pre-service training programs, and sponsor other regional conferences and activities. But it will try, whenever possible, to persuade districts to contribute their own resources to support corps members. "The last five years have been incredibly productive for us in terms of teacher professional development and assessment,'' Kopp says. "But we're going to apply that more broadly through TEACH!''
Currently, TEACH! is seeking contracts with school districts that would give it broad authority to recruit, select, and train teachers locally.
The shift should allow TFA to cut its budget by about $2.5 million. The corps also plans to seek less traditional funders. Until now, it has relied primarily on donations from national corp-orations and foundations. But funding tapered off after the first three years, and TFA, Kopp says, has "basically been struggling financially for quite a while.''