Applications to Teach for America fell by 16 percent this year, the third consecutive double-digit decline for the nonprofit that sends new college graduates into low-income communities for two-year teaching stints, The Washington Post reports.
The organization, long a favorite cause of school-reform advocates and major education donors such as the Walton Family Foundation. received 37,000 submissions for the coming school year, a 35 percent drop since 2013. The plunge marks a stark reversal for Teach for America, which saw applications grow by 18 percent annually from 2000 to 2013, and has budget implications because the group receives fees from school districts for its classroom placements. Last month the organization cut its national staff by 15 percent.
Announcing the figures Tuesday in an online letter to Teach for America supporters, CEO Elisa Villanueva Beard outlined steps the group is taking to reverse the downward trend, which she attributed in part to the improving economy offering more opportunities for new grads and to a "toxic debate" over education reform. In recent years Teach for America has been subject to stepped-up criticism that troubled schools are ill-served by a corps of inexperienced, short-term teachers.