Monday, January 4, 2010

TFA--Not like "Freedom Summer"

Freedom Summer 1964

A new study, suggested by Teach For America's Wendy Kopp herself, shows TFA grads exhausted, burned out, disillusioned with TFA on issues of ed equity. Kopp, of course, doesn't like the study's findings.
“Back in the ’60s, if you signed up for Freedom Summer, it was perceived to be countercultural,” said Professor Reich, who taught sixth grade in Houston as a member of the Teach for America corps. “But unlike doing Freedom Summer, joining Teach for America is part of climbing up the elite ladder — it’s part of joining the system, the meritocracy.”


  1. This is HARDLY the message I took away from the NY Times article. And I'd love to see the study and its numbers behind the assumptions introduced by the study's authors.

    So the study apparently found that TFA alum are less involved civic life by looking at charitable donations and the like. But 63 percent of TFA alums remain in the field of education and 31 percent in the classroom....So participation in public education isn't a civic endeavor?!

    Seems like the "study" raises more questions about itself than it answers about TFA participants.

  2. Wahookate said:

    "This is HARDLY the message I took away from the NY Times article."

    What message are you referring to? What message did you take away from the Times piece?

  3. Wahookate,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree that the study (and the Times article) raises more question than it answers. As for me, I don't doubt the social commitment of TFA grads or that of any other young teachers. Nor was I trying to take away any message from the Times article. Rather my post provided a link to the original article with a teaser quote to get SMALLTALK readers interested. --MK

  4. Mike,

    You quoted the author of the study correctly.

    "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 article was Wahookate reading?

  5. Sorry to belabor my point. The above quote was provided by the author of the study as a possible explanation for said study's results. But it does not appear to have been proven quantifiably as the/a reason for "lower" civic engagement (again, teaching is not considered as a civic engagement in the study!)

    I encourage you to read Andy Rotherham's well-balanced take on the study on Eduwonk --

    Just as an example -- "while 92 percent of the sample overall voted in the last presidential election, only 89 percent of TFA completers did. You decide how much of a problem this is given that these rates are about double the averages for the age-cohort overall."

  6. See researcher Doug McAdam's follow-up explanation on my January 8th post.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.