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Teach for America is not like the Peace Corps 0

Posted on July 13, 2010 by dmayer

The Billionaire Boys Club headed up by Bill Gates and Eli Broad has spent millions on public relations and media imaging in an attempt to portray the Teach for America as something it is not. For years, mainstream media has acquiesced to their hype by repeating the myths without question. This series of articles will attempt to set the record straight on the many misconceptions about Teach for America (TFA).

Myths abound to hype Teach for America. A favorite: Teach for America is like the Peace Corps. It’s not your daddy’s Peace Corps. It’s not your mama’s, either. In fact, it in no way resembles the Peace Corps. So why does the media keep hyping Teach for America this way? In his New York Times column, Michael Winerip comments on “”A Chosen Few Teaching for America and takes a step in the direction of laying this myth to rest.

From the column following a discussion of job opportunities and career choices:

In contrast, the Peace Corps (to which Teach for America compares itself) pays a cost-of-living allowance adjusted for each country where volunteers work and a $7,500 stipend when the 27-month stint is finished.

Members of the mainstream media take note. Teach for America is nothing like the Peace Corps. Reiterating that claim is a slap in the face to Peace Corps volunteers who have served over the past twenty years.

That Wendy Kopp, alleged founder of TFA,”" espouses the organization to be “”"”like the Peace Corps”"”" confirms that she either knows nothing about the Peace Corps or is callous toward those who unselfishly use their talents to serve their country.

The facts:

  • TFA relentlessly recruits college students who are not education majors. The organization spends millions on this task. TFAers freely admit that their service is a resume builder. Also school districts are charged a recruiting fee for each TFA corps member they hire, anywhere from $2,000 to $30,000. Peace Corps members volunteer. Peace corps volunteers seek out the Peace Corps. They are altruistic at heart seeking an opportunity to serve.
  • TFA corps recruits (who are not teachers) travel to major urban or rural areas in America and are paid a regular teacher’s salary of about $30,000 to $50,000. Peace Corps members (who are real teachers) travel abroad to live the lifestyle of natives in the poor villages they serve. They are paid a meager cost of living wage comparable to that of the villagers. They are paid as little as nine dollars a day or the lump sum of $7,”"500 upon their return home after 27 months of service.
  • TFA recruits freshly graduated college students to do a job they are not trained or qualified to do. The Peace Corps requires that its members have knowledge, skills, and experience in the occupation they are to perform abroad.
  • TFA members are entitled to about $5,000 at the end of each of their two years teaching from Americorps, originally set up by our government to sponsor volunteer programs in poor neighborhoods. Peace Corps workers are not given this funding.

Any newscaster or reporter who makes the Teach for America/Peace Corps comparison without challenging it is guilty of irresponsible reporting and perpetuating a myth that was falsely manufactured by TFA at its inception to misrepresent Teach for America and appeal to unsuspecting youth who believe the hype.

According to Kopp, TFA was created to send teachers to hard to staff schools. Today TFA has extraordinary access to teaching jobs even many when fully-certified, highly qualified teachers are available. It’s time for TFAers to step aside and let real teachers do their jobs.