An article in the New York Times from yesterday points out that, Teach for America, while controversial among some, is a more popular option among graduating college seniors than ever. TFA applicants are up about 32 percent from last year, many applying as early as August last year — well before the deadline.
The article attributes the renewed interest in the federal teaching program to a down economy, saying TFA hired more graduating seniors than any other single employer this year. The applicants also come from some of the top schools in the nation: Harvard, Yale, and UC-Berkeley.
TFA has become competitive; it creates an effect of teaching becoming an extremely desirable job — something that school districts struggled with for years. However, some critics to say that not all TFA teachers-in-training stick with it, since more than 80 percent of TFA teachers leave teaching within three years. Many leave the program to attend law or business school or go on to take highly paid consulting gigs. But a new proposal suggests that TFA should ask for a five-year commitment instead of just two years.
Still, the fact that college graduates are drawn to public service programs, even if it is because they might be waiting out a poor economy, is encouraging. Experiences in a program like TFA will likely diversify the experiences of the young people in the program, allowing them firsthand experience with children from different backgrounds. At least, that’s the hope, anyway.