Gary Rubinstein is a former member of Teach for America, and he is now one of its toughest critics. He is also its best friend, but TFA doesn’t know it. His criticism is always fair and insightful, never angry or mean spirited. If TFA would listen to him, it could reclaim its original mission and goals.

Because it does not listen, it does not learn. Instead, it cements its image as a narcissistic, elitist, arrogant organization that recruits bright young people and sends them ill-prepared into some very tough schools.

In this post, Gary explores how TFA cultivates condescending attitudes towards students, parents, and communities while indoctrinating its trainees to believe that failure in school or in society is the fault of bad, uncaring teachers. Implicit in this attitude is the belief that caring–a TFA specialty–will be enough to overcome all obstacles. Implicit too is the belief that the youngsters in TFA are infinitely smarter than those failed veteran teachers.

Twenty years of this posturing by the organization can create a bad reputation, especially among veteran teachers, whose help the TFA kids need.

TFA would be wise to listen to Gary. He gives them good advice.