Julian Vasquez Heilig recounts the story of a graduate of his university who reported plans to enter Teach for America.

The University of Texas, he says, sends more students to TFA than any other university.

This young person was filled with idealism and hope about making a difference.

Two years later, Julian received a letter, which he reprints in this post.

She said she felt unprepared; she did not get adequate support from TFA; she was isolated; she felt shame; and ultimately, she felt burned out.

Why shame?

Shame has a terrible place in this organization. I never believed that shame would become a motivator in my Teach for America experience, but shame holds onto the necks of many Corps members. Placing young college graduates in some of the toughest teaching situations with 5 weeks of training has negative repercussions on the mind, body, and soul of Corps members. The message is “If only I were stronger, smarter and more capable, I could handle this. I would be able to save my students.” Unfortunately, TFA intentionally or unintentionally preys on this shame to push Corps members to their limits to create “incredible” classrooms and “transformative” lesson plans. Would these things be good for our students? Of course. Is shame a sustainable method for creating and keeping good teachers in the classroom? Absolutely not. It is defeating and draining.