I received the following exchange from Professor Howard Winant, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received a request from the campus TFA recruiter to spend five minutes with his class, and he responded with the following letter:

 
Hi ___,

 

Thanks for writing me. I have sent students to TFA in the past, and I have friends on the TFA staff, but I have come to think that the organization has significant problems, problems which make me hesitant to recommend it any more.

 

I’m sure you and my other friends are well-motivated. But despite its claims and the no doubt sincere belief of people in the organization that TFA is working “to eliminate educational inequity,” that is actually far from the case.

 

TFA is deeply tied to the privatization of public education that is going on now in this country. It’s linked to the charter school movement, which is not a movement at all, but a largely corporate initiative to extract profits from the public education system by channeling public money into private hands. TFA promotes school choice and voucher programs which devastate low-income children’s education and communities. It is largely unaccountable to the public and to democratic processes. It cycles teachers through the schools where it works; many do not stay. It substitutes crash-course teacher training for the painstaking preparation that committed teachers should undergo, systematically and deliberately undermining the teaching profession. It provides a second-tier, low-investment teaching cohort for neglected schools in poor areas — largely ghettos and barrios — in which states and local school authorities do not wish to invest. So TFA puts an inadequate “bandaid” on a gaping wound.

 

This country has all the resources it needs to create a high-quality education system. What is lacking is political commitment. If those who work at or in TFA were to devote their efforts to resisting the wholesale assaults that are going on against public schooling — at all levels by the way, in public higher ed as well — their time, resources, and energy would be much better spent. TFA, I have come to think, is merely an ineffective end-run around these problems at best, and one of the sources of these problems at worst. So I won’t be supporting it any more.

 

Thanks for reading this,

 

Howard Winant
***

 

 

 

 

On 1/26/16 7:13 PM, ___ wrote:
Good Evening Professor Winant,

 

 

I hope you are having a great start to 2016 and the winter quarter.

 

My name is xxxx, and I am a Teach For America campus representative. Teach For America is a national non-profit organization working alongside others to eliminate educational inequity and looking to recruit UCSB students with a Sociology background.

 

We look for students, like the ones in your Special Topics in Race, Ethnicity, and Nation class, who portray leadership qualities and are passionate about community and social justice. They are uniquely positioned to inspire young students and make an impact based on their expressed interest for your class.

 

Given this and our last two application deadlines approaching, may we give a brief presentation about this opportunity for your Special Topics in Race, Ethnicity, and Nation course at the beginning of your 5-7:50, 5-5:50, 6-6:50, 7-7:50 class on Tuesday in the next coming weeks?

 

We will keep the presentation to 5 minutes or less because we value your time and know you probably have a lot of material to cover! Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Respectfully,
___

___
Recruitment Associate

One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.