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Monday, August 05, 2013

Teach for America criticized for apparent stance on education policy

Teach for America criticized for apparent stance on education policy

Critics say Teach for America has strayed from a core mission of helping needy urban schools, favoring efforts seen as anti-teacher union.

By Howard Blume
7:40 PM PDT, August 3, 2013

Over its 24-year history, Teach for America has won accolades for taking top college graduates and putting them to work in some of America's toughest schools, creating what it regards as a national model of nonpartisan service in education.

But some former participants and academics, among others, have recently accused the Peace Corps-like organization of taking sides in the education policy wars. They criticize the nonprofit for aligning too closely with its largest private donors and high-profile alumni who have gone into politics. They say the group has diverged too far from a core mission: addressing a teacher shortage with top college grads primed to inject energy and success into low-income, urban campuses.

The key backers of Teach for America include foundations that support efforts to expand charter schools, limit teacher job protections, weaken union clout and evaluate instructors by using student test scores.

The Walton Family Foundation, for example, last week donated $20 million that will help fund about 500 hires in Los Angeles. Funded by the family that began Walmart, the foundation supports both charter schools and government vouchers to subsidize private school tuition for low-income families.

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