Social Change is defined as any significant alteration over time in behavior patterns and cultural values and norms. Founded over two decades ago, in 1989, a nonprofit organization known as Teach For America (TFA) was formed to create social change in the area of education by fighting to end educational inequality. The mission of TFA is to “eliminate educational inequity by enlisting high-achieving recent college graduates and professionals to teach“. Being at such a prestigious university such as the University of Florida, many Gators are sought out by recruiters to be a part of this exalted nonprofit organization. Nevertheless, a lot of students are attracted to the idea of becoming “TFA corps members” as it would guarantee them a job right after college. If selected to become a TFA corps member, and accept this offer, one is fundamentally saying that they plan on committing at least two years to teaching in a low-income community throughout the United States.
In my Leading Through Community Engagement class, we discussed that social change addresses each person’s sense of responsibility to others and that realizing that doing things makes society better off. With this being said, many students who apply to become TFA corps members do it because they want to create this positive change in the world. Many see this opportunity as a way for them to help underprivileged students to be on the same level as everyone else and to eliminate that educational gap. In fact, TFA even believes that by
eliminating this educational gap, that it will end poverty once and for all.
At this point you must be thinking, “Oh, this is absolutely great!” However, some practitioners have seemed to find some discrepancy in the way that TFA is trying to create this social change. According to backlash in the article, TFA is said to do the exact opposite of what its mission sets out to do. Some believe that their fight to end educational inequality is flawed by the fact that they allow “inexperienced, uncertified teachers” to teach these underprivileged students. If you’re wondering what they are talking about, then let me explain. Teach for America offers its corps members five weeks of “institutes”, which is simply training on what to do in the classroom.
So, you must be wondering, “Well, that amount of time does kind of seem short to prepare to go into teach”. If you are then there are people out there who agree with you! Yet another pitfall we see in the TFA mission. In the article, it goes on to talk about the partnership that TFA has with companies that have been known to support inequality and could not give two crap about minorities.
Now, you’re probably torn on whether you think that this organization is doing the right thing by our children. I am too. What TFA aims to do is a very noble thing, however, I am still a little hesitant about the way in which they are creating this social change. Being a strong, smart, driven college student, I think that I would be a great addition to the corps. Nonetheless, I think I need solid evidence that this program works.
I leave you all with a quote by Aaron Koblin that says “What’s clear – and exciting – is that communication for social change is growing.” On the bright side, we have people who are stepping up and acknowledging that there needs to be social change in education and are doing something about it! :)