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The following post was written a decade ago but remains relevant today.

Yale graduate and ideologue, Joshua Kaplowitz, wrote an article about his experiences after attending five weeks of teacher boot campy courtesy of Teach for America (TFA), an organization whose primary agenda is social justice through indoctrination (TFA is an affiliate of AmeriCorps) and at Emery Elementary School located in an urban community school district in Washington, DC.

Kapolowitz’ plan, while on paper or in his head appeared sublime and doable; however, suffering the disdain and bigotry of his students, parents and peers who became teachers who achieved their Accstatus minus the short-cuts of a social justice organization thrust reality to the forefront, “I quickly realized that my best-planned, most imaginative lessons fell apart if I didn’t have control of my students….To gain control, I tried imposing the kinds of consequences that the classroom-management handbooks recommend. None worked….”

Kaplowitz spent most of his first year, breaking up fights, defending false accusations, fending off threats by parents promising to kick his “white” ass and suffering abuse from a principal who rather than address failing and troubled students within her purview declared war on teachers who bucked the trend and so, Kapolowitz found no support from Emery school’s principal, V. Lisa Savoy.

City Journal (excerpts)

Successful principals usually are mavericks, too, who skirt stupid bureaucracy to do what is best for the children. Emery’s Principal Savoy sure didn’t fit this model.

To start with, from all that I could see, she seemed mostly to stay in her office, instead of mingling with students and observing classes, most of which were up at least one flight of stairs, perhaps a disincentive for so heavy a woman. Furthermore, I saw from the first month that she generally gave delinquents no more than a stern talking-to, followed by a pat on the back, rather than suspensions, detentions, or any other meaningful punishment. The threat of sending a student to the office was thus rendered toothless.

Worse, Ms. Savoy effectively undermined my classroom-management efforts. She forbade me from sending students to other teachers….

Why did I stay on? Part of the answer lay in my own desperate desire not to fail….Another part of the answer was Teach for America’s having instilled in each corps member the idea that you have made a commitment to the children and that you must stick with them at all costs…

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In 2003, Kevin Drum (now reporting for Mother Jones) shortly after the above article surfaced, posted a rebuttal. In the Washington Monthly article, Drum posted a letter from another TFA alumni who worked at Emery Elementary School allegedly a few classrooms down the hall from Kaplowitz.

TFA alumni and proud social justice ideologue, Nick Ehrmann, while patting himself on the back, accused Kaplowitz of blaming others for his failings going so far as to admonishes Kaplowitz (sort of) for calling out the principal publicly during a staff meeting.

My personal solution to such challenging conditions was to ignore the disorder and focus on building trust and peace in my own classroom. Over time, as I earned the respect of my students and families, I partnered with them to form “I Have A Dream”—Project 312….If Josh was attempting to call attention to the failures of the system and be a constructive critic, why is his article entitled “How I Joined Teach For America—and Got Sued for $20 Million”? Relegated to “uncontrollable” and “wild” status, the subjects of Josh’s pen have tragically become anonymous casualties in a cycle of blame, a cycle that risks weakening our continued commitment to public education by replacing it with hopelessness and fear (or worse, education policy that is misguided).

Knowing that teachers can and do succeed in even the most challenging environments, we should recognize Josh’s article for what it is: a distraction that appeals to the politics of failure rather than building towards a future of achievement….


a distraction that appeals to the politics of failure rather than building towards a future of achievement” Spoken like a true Progressive.

About 12 years ago, a former NYC public school teacher, informed me that (a) TFA alumni were outsiders who took the short path to teaching and (b) that the “fake teachers”/ideologues were not expected to last long.

The culture shock, chaos, violence and politics that stood precedent over education and was a shock to the system of TFA alumni, many of whom were lured to their positions with housing subsidies and other goodies. See: New York Times 2006 article by DAVID M. HERSZENHORN entitled, New York Offers Housing Subsidy as Teacher Lure excerpt below.

Under terms of the program, negotiated with the city teachers’ union, the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg will pay as much as $5,000 up front to the recruits for housing expenses, including the cost of moving to the New York area, a down payment on buying a home, or broker fees and security deposits for renters.

The program will also pay a $400 monthly housing stipend for two years. Teachers can live wherever they want within the metropolitan region but must commit to work for three years in one of New York City’s toughest middle schools or high schools….City education officials said they planned to market the new program forcefully on recruiting trips to the Northwest, the Southeast and especially California, where housing costs are also high….


According to a report by the Center for Urban and Multicural Education – Indiana University:

TFA actively recruits recent college graduates and mid-career professionals to commit to teach for a minimum of two years in high need, low income schools throughout the country. The vast majority of recruits have no prior teaching experience, university-based courses in education, nor certification upon entry into the program….


In the same report referencing the turn-over rate of TFA alumni which continues until this day:

most studies indicate that retention remains an issue. Raymond (2002) reported that at the end of two years, more than 60% of TFA teachers in her study had left teaching in the Houston district, compared to 45 to 50% of other new teachers who left the district. , Darling – Hammond et. al (2005) determined that between 57 and 90% of TFA teachers had left after two years, and that between 72 and 100% had left after three years. More recently, a 2006 study found that between 10 and 15% of each TFA corps class leaves before completing their two-year commitment (Boyd, et. al., 2006). A comparison study of New York City (NYC) teachers found that 90% of TFA recruits left by year four. In the same study, close to 60% of other uncertified teachers left in the same time period and about 50% of NYC Teaching Fellows, who are also uncertified had also left. In contrast, just over 40% of “regular certified” teachers left in the same time period (Kane, et. al., 2006).

SOURCE: Center for Urban and Multicural Education – Indiana University.
In a 2010 report by Epic and the Public Interest Center, University of Colorado-Boulder entitled, Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence“, while TFA insists that it is making a difference by sending “non-credential” TFA alumni with no background in education into public schools, there are many who would beg to differ.

The question for most districts, however, is whether TFA teachers do as well as or better than credentialed non-TFA teachers with whom school districts aim to staff their schools. On this question, studies indicate that the students of novice TFA teachers perform significantly less well in reading and mathematics than those of credentialed beginning teachers.

Experience has a positive effect for both TFA and non-TFA teachers. Most studies find that the relatively few TFA teachers who stay long enough to become fully credentialed (typically after two years) appear to do about as well as other similarly experienced credentialed teachers in teaching reading; they do as well as, and sometimes better than, that comparison group in teaching mathematics. However, since more than 50% of TFA teachers leave after two years, and more than 80% leave after three years, it is impossible to know whether these more positive findings for experienced recruits result from additional training and experience or from attrition of TFA teachers who may be less effective. From a school-wide perspective, the high turnover of TFA teachers is costly….


The report recommends that TFA alumni be considered as temporary and substitute teachers only. Source: Teach For America: A Review of the Evidence,” Epic and the Public Interest Center, University of Colorado-Boulder.

As reported in a 2014 article written by George Joseph, The Nation

While Teach For America may lack insider influence in certain progressive media outlets, the organization, which represents less than 0.2 percent of America’s teaching force, enjoys disproportionate sway in the political realm, from local school districts to federal agencies. Sixty-three percent of recruits work, as Teach For America puts it, ‘full time in education,’ yet a 2010 study found that 80 percent of Teach For America recruits quit after three years. The disparity suggests that while TFA recruits may not be able to stomach teaching, they do feel up to the task of other education-sector activities, like policy reform and foundation management….

Case in point, Nick Ehrmann, the individual that rebutted Kaplowitz claims in a letter to Kevin Drum (above) accusing Kapolowitz of being a distraction. No longer a teacher, Ehrmann is CEO and Founder, Blue Engine and founder of Project 312.

Ehrmann, recognized by the Clinton Global Initative, Blue Ridge Foundation of New York and Echoing Green is in the business of churning out future indoctrinators, i.e., “policy reform and foundation management.” [my emphasis]

Under the revelations that it is easier to brainwash the masses when the indoctrinator resembles the subjects of indoctrination, TFA has since increased the number of non-whites, as noted on their website (screenshots below).

screenshot Teacher for America diversity 001

Source: Teach for America.

Source:  Teacher for America.

Source: Teach for America.


It gets no better, TFA who receives government funding, is disapproving of voices that speaks out against the organization and thus feels the need to silence critics with Alinskyite tactics while attempting to control the message. (Sound familiar?)

The harder TFA attempts to control the message, the louder the voices of fellow Progressives which leads one to ask, what is the real story. After all, it has been common knowledge for decades that TFA’s alumni are ill equipped for the classroom.

Is TFA not far left enough? The complaints levied at TFA are nothing new. Why now?

Could it be the TFA’s connections alignment with charter schools and its backers which concern me as a grandparent whose grandchildren attend charter schools in New York City, charter schools of which are under attack by public school teachers and their unions?

Must everything be about politics?

According to an NYT article, “Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America,” by Motoko Rich

However, unpreparedness pales in comparison to the much larger problem with TFA: It undermines the American public education system from the very foundation by urging the replacement of experienced career teachers with a neoliberal model of interchangeable educators and standardized testing. If TFA intended to place students in schools with insufficient numbers of teachers, it has strayed far from its original goal. As an essay by Chicago teacher Kenzo Shibata asked last summer, ‘Teach For America wanted to help stem a teacher shortage. Why then are thousands of experienced educators being replaced by hundreds of new college graduates?”’Journalist James Cersonsky notes that veteran teachers and schools alike may suffer from this type of reform: ‘Districts pay thousands in fees to TFA for each corps member in addition to their salaries—at the expense of the existing teacher workforce. Chicago, for example, is closing 48 schools and laying off 850 teachers and staff while welcoming 350 corps members….’

Even if it means Progressives eating their own, when all else fails, there’s the race card and propaganda. Translation: Silence them by any means necessary.

Education Post, by Dr. Andre Perry

Black members of Teach For America (TFA) know the real reasons conservatives and progressives alike attack them. Black folk aren’t supposed to seek justice on our own terms. Black teachers, especially from Teach For America, aren’t supposed to protest in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore or McKinney, Texas. But whether in school or in the streets that surround them, black corps members of TFA are teaching the rest of us where a great education and the pursuit of justice should take you….

The article goes on to lambast Michelle Malkin for her article calling out agent provacateur, TFA alumni/indoctrinator, DeRay McKesson among others who are playing a major role in never-ending discord in the streets of Ferguson, Baltimore and as of this week, McKinney, Texas. (Suggested reading: Prostesters Hired to Burn Ferguson Down, Stiffed by Missouri ACORN Branch. Not to worry though, McKesson is allegedly among those receiving compensation for services rendered.)

While not quite shouting, Black power and power to the people, omitted from Perry’s article is the mention that those running the show in the backrooms of TFA, much like ACORN are Caucasians. Just saying.

Moreover, the TFA has fundamentally transformed itself into a thorn in the sides of collective bargaining who has declared war on the organization, attacks of which are not in interest of the children.

Clearly, Michelle Malkin’s article, The Militant Takeover Of The ‘Teach For America’ Corps has hit the Progressive nerve. As usual, they attack Conservative media to divert attention away from the fact that TFA alumni are fake teachers. The five-week TFA boot camp program is merely an illusion. From McKesson down, these Communist agitators don’t teach, they indoctrinate. They have no place in our educational institutions.

That, of course, might explain the hashtag #resistTFA and #TFA.