United Students Against Sweatshops kicked off its second annual Teach for America Truth Tour at numerous colleges, urging the removal of “the organization from our campuses unless they make some important reforms.” The effort at Harvard received notable national attention and led to a conversation between USAS and TFA. Unfortunately, TFA did not agree to any of USAS’s recommended reforms although both groups agreed to meet again.
USAS’s efforts spurred college students from across the country to speak out against TFA. Students should be skeptical of Teach For America proclaimed the editorial board of the Daily Tarheel. Students from the College of William and Mary told Teach for America: You can’t fast-track teaching. A University of Houston senior wrote Teach for America is the wrong path to education reform. In An education in Teach for America, a University of Chicago student wrote that “TFA’s apparent mission to address education inequality conceals problematic premises.” And the Stanford Daily urged college students to Force Teach for America to narrow its scope.
Clearly, college students are not buying the marketing spin TFA spends so much on. Will TFA ratchet up its marketing and continue with business as usual and keep its corporate backers happy? Or, will it listen to the concerns of communities, educators, and the increasing numbers of college students and do the hard work of reforming itself, with the risk of losing some of those backers?