I like Teach for America.  Oftentimes, on this blog especially, I can get critical of the organization.  But that criticality in no way diminishes my appreciation, respect, or enthusiasm about this organization.  I think Teach For America (TFA) is a valuable organization that is aiding a critical need of the United States–the need for teachers in the classroom.

Too often classrooms in underfunded schools, or schools in economically impoverished areas, have classrooms full of students and no teachers to teach in those classrooms.  So, at the very least, TFA is providing an opportunity for more what they call “learning time” for students.  It’s placing qualified college graduates in front of elementary, middle, or high school students who would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn, and it’s giving those students a chance for success.

TFA is also raising the valid issue: education in America is weak.  I’ve seen videos of fourth graders reading Romeo and Juliet, and Dante, and taking it in and learning it.  I’ve seen 3rd graders perform calculus.  And while they don’t necessarily know the why, they understand the what and the how and they achieve with great success.  I’ve seen students achieve great things when nothing had been expected of them beforehand.  I’ve seen it happen, and the main thing America can do to make it happen is to raise standards and expectations.  But it doesn’t.  Not really.  America sets standards incredibly low.

A student’s score on the SAT can sometimes determine if they will get admitted into college, but the rigor of the 10th and 11th grade assessments in most states is not even half of what that test is.  Standardization has become a pathway for lowering expectations and diminishing the possibilities for students.

How idealistic of me right?  To think that I might be able to solve to problem of educational inequality, to be the change my students need in order for them to achieve success.

Well I don’t really think that.  But I think I can help a little bit.

And TFA is the reason for that in a big way.

Yes, there are many flaws within this organization, flaws I tell them about, and flaws they constantly try to fix.  Getting stuck in those flaws and having to crawl my way out, I feel I’m mildly right in complaining a little bit.  But that doesn’t diminish my idealism in this organization’s mission, or its potential to make change in America.

If I didn’t believe it could, why would I be here?

So take everything I say with a grain of salt (maybe just take the whole salt shaker) because I say what I say because I think what I think.  I’m an individual with complex thoughts, both loving and hating this organization in varying amounts given the moment of the day.  I may be fickle, but always know deep down: I appreciate and wholly support TFA’s mission.

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