Bill Schechter, a teacher in MA, forwarded this to me, with a comment.
On January 3, the New York Times published an interesting article about "Teach for America." Based on a study done by Stanford sociologist Doug McAdam. See link below. The study concluded that Teach for America volunteers were actually less likely to remain civically engaged after their 2-year than their peers who has been accepted into the program but declined or those who dropped before their commitment had been fulfilled. [See my post from January 4, 2010--m.k.]
That was interesting enough, but there was a strange paragraph in the Times story, strange in that an intriguing and important reference was not explained in the remainder of the story. The story comprised 21 paragraphs. The fourth read as follows:
"The reasons for the lower rates of civic involvement, Professor McAdam said, include not only exhaustion and burnout, but also disillusionment with Teach for America’s approach to the issue of educational inequity, among other factors."
What was it, I wondered, that turned some volunteers off from "Teach for America's approach to economic inequality"? I decided to email Dr. McAdam and ask him. I got his email address from the Stanford web site but also learned he was on leave. Sure enough, my email received a prompt response; "I will be out of the office until..."
Then to my surprise I received this reply today:
"Dear Bill Schechter,
Roughly 20% of the TFA “graduates” in our study reported that they came to be “disillusioned” by the TFA approach. Without follow up interviews it’s hard to know exactly what they meant by that, but my impression is that many TFA teachers came to see the issue of educational inequality as much more complicated and far more structural than the TFA approach would suggest. So while laudable, putting well meaning college grads in 2,000 resource poor schools was not going to meaningfully address the more intractable issue of educational inequality. Hope this helps. Doug McAdam"