In numerous large cities, TFA is moving beyond its role of filling teacher shortages and is becoming a willing partner in efforts to privatize schools. Ani McHugh is a HS English teacher who has written about TFA’s role in taking advantage of school closings to expand its presence and promote the growth of privately run charter schools. In TFA looks to capitalize on School District of Philadelphia crisis, she describes how TFA is part of a plan that will “ultimately hurt students, starve public schools, disrupt unions, and promote the expansion of charters in Philadelphia.” And, in Predictable reform tactics in Camden: close schools, lay off teachers, open charters, import TFA, she again shows how TFA is capitalizing on school closings. TFA has played a similar role in the privatizing efforts in Chicago as well, as described in How big can TFA get? And TFA is poised to do the same in Newark under the leadership of TFA alum Cami Anderson and her “One Newark” plan – even though it’s highly un-popular among parents and teachers and even though research shows no evidence it will help students, and will disproportionately impact teachers of color (refer here for links to the research).
As traditional public schools in largely poor and minority communities are closed, TFA is conveniently waiting in the wings to provide the cheap and disposable labor for the private charter schools that open up to replace them. As reported here, TFA recruits must accept whatever placement they’re given. It’s no surprise then that in these communities, TFA recruits are placed disproportionately in charter schools (see below for examples). So, when TFA says it’s not directly replacing veteran teachers, that is very misleading. TFA is indirectly replacing veteran teachers through school closing and privatization. What’s worse is that teachers in the closed schools are more likely to be minority teachers. So, even as TFA claims to be apolitical, its actions show otherwise.
Overall 41% of TFA alum are teaching in charters and 33% of recruits are placed in charters, which itself dramatically favors charters considering only ~5% of students attend charters nationally. Still, this figure masks how in large urban settings TFA recruits are placed almost exclusively in private charters schools where they provide the cheap disposable labor these schools rely on to undermine teachers unions. Below are a few examples:
- Los Angeles: ~90% placed in charters
- Philadephia: ~90% placed in charters
- Chicago: ~60% placed in charters
- Detroit: ~70% placed in charters
- New Orleans: almost all TFA recruits placed in charters as TFA has been a willing partner in the post-Katrina Shock Doctrine policy of converting the entire city to charter schools
So, when reporter Stephanie Simon asked Has TFA betrayed its mission, it seems clear the answer is yes.