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What Next for Teach For America?

Alexander Russo | May 17, 2013

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Read between the lines of June Kronholz’s Education Next piece (Still Teaching for America) and you’ll see find lots of interesting tidbits for both Teach For America (TFA) fans and skeptics  — though, alas, nothing specific about TFA LA.

The piece takes a look at the much-discussed school reform organization as it goes through a key transition of leadership and size.

Two new co-CEOs have taken over from founder Wendy Kopp, and the annual budget that in 2012 was $320 million is expected to go up to half a billion dollars within the next three years.

How has it survived so long, how does it continue to grow and thrive, and what are the challenges to its continued expansion?

Reporter Kronholz boils the organization’s successful growth (if not large-scale impact on educational outcomes) on things like regional innovations (Houston’s content coaches, Jacksonville’s localized summer institute, South Dakota’s rural principal leadership incubator), and its willingness to create and scrap ideas that don’t pan out.

As has become increasingly common in recent years, TFA’s new national leaders are focusing as much on what alumni do as what they accomplish in the classroom:

“[Co-CEO Matt] Kramer also paints a vision of TFA as an instigator of change, producing alumni that TFA expects—just expects—will become the sort of shake-up-the-beast leaders who will “do something radically different” for the schools.”

However, TFA won’t share its specific leadership goals. And the organization is hampered by the need for more local and regional heads, says Kronholz.

Four of the regional leadership spots were empty earlier this year, and plans to expand to two new (unnamed) cities) were scrapped for lack of management talent.

How interesting that an organization with such a surplus of applications for initial teaching spots is having trouble finding enough qualified candidates to staff its own expansion.

Cross-posted from This Week In Education


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