Applications to join Teach for America, the national education nonprofit, which sends new, quickly trained college graduates into troubled school districts for two-year classroom stints, are down by about 10 percent from a year ago, the second straight decline after 15 years of growth, writes The New York Times. The organization has notified participating schools that this fall's teacher cohort could be down by up to 25 percent,and it has closed two of its eight summer training sites, in Los Angeles and New York City.
Teach for America leaders said the nonprofit, which accepted 15 percent of its applicants last year, does not plan to lower standards to boost teacher numbers. They pinned the recruitment slowdown to the economic recovery giving high-achieving graduates more, and more lucrative, job choices.
Closely aligned with the charter-school and standards movements, Teach for America has been a target of growing criticism from teachers' unions and some program alumni, who say it reinforces educational inequity by filling low-income schools with inexperienced staff. Co-CEO Matt Kramer said the controversy was not a factor in the recruitment drop, asserting that when he visits college campuses, "I don't hear people say, 'Oh, I hear this criticism and therefore I don't want to do Teach for America.'"