National student organization United Students Against Sweatshops is launching a tour to get Teach for America off of college campuses.
The "TFA Truth Tour," which began this week, aims to expose the truth about Teach for America, a program that recruits recent college grads to spend two years teaching in an underfunded school. According to the USAS website, "not only does it [TFA] fail to prepare teachers for the classroom, but it is systematically pushing to replace our system of community public education and replace it with an alternative largely controlled by profit-seeking corporations."
Over the next two weeks, the group of student activists, teachers and TFA alumni will visit 15 college campuses to shed a light on TFA's politics. “TFA recruits based on a social justice and community service message,” says Jan Van Tol, a USAS national organizer. “We think that’s deceptive and doesn’t get at what TFA is really about."
According to 2011 TFA Chicago corps member Chad Sommer, there are several issues with the TFA program. Schools can exploit TFA for cheap labor, and many of the schools don't have adequate programs to support the goals of TFA teachers. Because TFA members are under pressure to accept a job offer, school principals don't feel the need to provide any extra funding or training.
“Forty-nine Chicago district schools closed down. So now ... you have a teacher who maybe is an experienced teacher with five to six years of experience making a decent middle-class living of $60,000 to $70,000 a year who has to compete for a job being offered to a corps member for $32,000,” Sommer says. “That’s the mechanism that undermines the labor market in big cities like Chicago.”
USAS's "Truth Tour" is part of a larger campaign to ultimately remove TFA recruiters from college campuses.