Teach For America’s preferential treatment: School district contracts, hiring decisions, and employment practices
Keywords:Teach For America, teacher hiring practices, school district contracts, policy analysis
Teach For America (TFA) began in 1990 as an organization purportedly interested in working towards ameliorating a national teacher shortage by sending its corps members into urban and rural schools. In the decades that followed, especially during and immediately following a nationwide onslaught of teacher layoffs instigated by the 2008 Great Recession, teaching shortages no longer exist in many of the districts TFA continues to place corps members. In response to growing criticism, TFA has altered its public rhetoric, suggesting now that their “corps members” are better than traditionally trained teachers – including veteran teachers – and are hired only through equal hiring processes rather than being afforded preferential treatment. We analyze Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) between TFA and regional school districts, TFA’s official literature, and public discourse to address the degree to which TFA is privileged in hiring practices. We provide evidence that school districts are contractually obligated to reserve and protect positions exclusively for corps members, jobs held by corps members are not a result of equal and open competition, corps member positions are specifically not limited to “so-called shortage areas,” and TFA’s partnership with charter schools and alumni of the organization have skewed hiring practices in favor of TFA over non-TFA teachers.