I've been saying this for years and I'm so, so glad to finally read it from a Teach for American alum.
TFA has positioned their teaching jobs as employment graduates can brag about. But is it possible that the way TFA sells itself—by selling the connection to TFA rather than the prestige of teaching– could actually be hurting how graduates and the general public alike view the teaching profession? Ultimately TFA needs to change their recruitment model and their two-year commitment contract. TFA should sell theteaching profession to college graduates rather than the two-year commitment.
It's so, so true. In my opinion TFA has actually hurt how the teaching profession is seen by the general public making it appear that the only reason an intellgent person would go into teaching would be because they plan to leave the profession.
He begins the article by writing about how he would vary between telling people he was a TFA teacher and just a teacher and how their reactions would change. The vast difference in respect between those who viewed him as a member of TFA and those who saw him as "just a teacher". From personal experience I know that to be true. In my early 20's when I'd go out to bars with TFAers I was always frustrated and horrified by the reaction people had when they heard what we did. Although we all taught first grade, those who said they were in TFA were given lots of respect, while I was always treated like I didn't have a brain. I once had someone literally drop their hand when they found out that although I taught I wasn't in TFA- literally did not want to shake hands with "just a teacher".
I can't tell you how thankful I am to finally read this and see that someone who has been in the program can also recognize the problem. If we are going to improve public education we have to make it a respectable profession. We have to make it so that new teachers don't have to drop "I could have gone to law school" into conversation so that that they get some respect. We have to make college students look towards teaching with the same light they look at going into public policy or non-profit work. We'll never compete salary-wise with doctors or lawyers, but there are ivy leaguers out there who are determined to dedicate their life to the greater good- shouldn't they be able to consider teaching without having others look at them in horror?