John Wilson explains on his blog on Education Week why states and districts should NOT contract with Teach for America.

He writes:

“Lately, I have been reading numbers of articles about Teach For America (TFA) written by former participants in the program as well as by researchers and investigative reporters. It appears that there is general consensus that TFA is not the answer to teacher shortages, closing achievement gaps, or eliminating poverty in this country. Most of the writers agree that the program is using public schools and poor children to develop a network of new leaders who will advance a corporate reform agenda. Great harm has been done in school districts and states where these new TFA leaders have emerged. Who bears the greatest portion of responsibility for what is happening?”

The young people are idealistic and eager to be of service to children and society. But recently there has been a startling number of admissions by former TFA that they were woefully unprepared for the challenges of teaching by their five weeks of training. Nonetheless, through their skillful networking, Congress dubbed them “highly qualified,” so these inexperienced newcomers could be placed in the classrooms of the nation’s neediest children. This serves the expansionist goals of the organization, but does a terrible disservice to the children, who actually need Highly Qualified Teachers, not newcomers.

Not only are they not “highly qualified teachers,” but the orgaization’s repeated claim that newcomers with little training are even better than experienced professionals weakens the very idea of professionalism.

Who would go to a doctor or lawyer or engineer who had “trained” for only five weeks