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September 19, 2014

Opinion: 'Toxic Rhetoric' Fouls Teach for America Criticism

The founder and chairwoman of Teach for America responds to growing criticism of the national teacher-training group's methods and impact in a Washington Post column. Wendy Kopp says critiques of the organization that annually sends thousands of recent college graduates into low-income school districts for two-year teaching stints has provided "valuable feedback" but is sometimes "based on misrepresentation and toxic rhetoric."

Ms. Kopp addresses critics' assertions that Teach for America ill-serves students by supplying classrooms with underprepared teachers primarily interested in padding their resumes with good works en route to corporate careers. She says nearly two-thirds of the program's alumni continue to work in education and cites research showing improved student performance in districts where the nonprofit is active.

"This country is failing our kids, and the conversation we're having is not helping," she concludes. "It's undermining trust in the efforts of so many to improve education and driving away what we need most: the energy and attention of every person willing to work for our children."