Teach for America: Letting the cream rise

George Will on Wendy Kopp’s Teach for America (TFA):

(…) This academic year, 16 percent of Princeton’s seniors and 18 percent of Harvard’s applied to join Teach for America, of which Kopp is CEO. TFA is the largest employer of recent graduates from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Eight percent of seniors at the University of Michigan (undergraduate enrollment: 26,830) applied last year for TFA’s two-year commitments. More than 5 percent of graduating seniors at 130 colleges are applicants.

(…) This school year, there are 8,000 TFA teachers. Of the 20,000 TFA alumni, two-thirds are still working full time in education. Of those, only one in six says that even without TFA he or she might have gone into K-12 teaching.

TFA has become a flourishing reproach to departments and schools of education. It pours talent into the educational system – 80 percent of its teachers are in traditional public schools – talent that flows around the barriers of the credentialing process. Hence TFA works against the homogenization that discourages innovation and prevents the cream from rising.

(…) [Congress] has obtusely defined “earmark” to include “any named program,” so TFA has been declared an earmark and sentenced to death. If Congress cannot understand how nonsensical this is, it should be sent back to school for remedial instruction from some of TFA’s exemplary young people.

Our recent post on Wendy’s lecture at Stanford.