These programs promote the quick fix of charter schools. Yet, national studies find that charter schools are more likely to underperform than to outperform their counterparts serving similar children. Moreover, many charter schools — for example, KIPP, the most historically linked with Teach for America — systematically push out the most needy students, including special education students, English-language learners, foster children and those who struggle with disciplinary issues.
Teach for America and its partners encourage teacher evaluations based on student test scores, although most of their own members leave the classroom before they are subject to these measures. The most compelling research in the field shows these measures to be invalid and unreliable. Moreover, use of the measures creates disincentives for teachers to collaborate, and to teach our most struggling students.
Some of the most passionate, loving and skilled people I have ever met have come through Teach for America. There is a tremendous opportunity to bring about social change toward educational justice. But it must be based on stronger preparation, longer commitments to teaching and a genuine contribution to equity, not quick fixes.