Teach For America (TFA) is a travesty. It promotes a viciously false portrait of the ineffective veteran teacher and the young hero/heroine swooping in to save the day. Furthermore, the TFA teacher stays in teaching for a few years at most - his or her time in public schools is fleeting, and he or she invests no real dedication to the institution of education, or to the future of our youth.
The veteran teacher, on the other hand, faithfully indulges time and resources, year after year, into her students. She endures egregious abuse from all angles - administration and parents being the worst perpetrators of that abuse. She works round the clock to ensure her students' success, with severely limited resources and surviving on an even more severely limited paycheck. Indeed, some teachers, if they are not married to someone in a higher-paying occupation, must resort to food stamps and second jobs to actually survive on such a slim salary.
The TFA teacher breezes through all of this, because his or her time in education is finite; most TFA teachers move on from public ed, believing that his or her "community service" has been fulfilled, and now it's time for "real world" challenges.
But public ed IS the real world. Those who stay in it do so out of a love for kids, and a love for humanity. Because it's certainly not the abuse or the paltry paycheck that keeps dedicated teachers propelling forward, year after year.
The education "crisis" was manufactured so that private, for-profit interests could usurp the roles of government-run, non-profit schools. If you put 38 kids in a classroom, and erase resources, and insist on data-driven results, and pay teachers pathetically, and abuse them despite their most devoted efforts, then of course schools are going to falter - any school. Though the results are always going to be worse for schools in poor areas, because the abuse is that much more extreme at such schools.
And yet the benighted, zombiefied public just slurps up what the news spews at them, because they have allowed their minds to be straitjacketed by empty-headed newscasters and malevolent corporate interests. The benighted, zombified public truly believes that all these so-called reforms - charter schools, Teach for America, etc. - are really going to "solve" the education "crisis." Um, yeah, how about eradicating poverty? That might be a start.