Dayton was a teacher and social worker before he entered politics, so it may be that he has some insight into why so many teachers and education activists object to Teach For America’s approach. This is how TFA works: It hires new college graduates, gives them five weeks of training in a summer institute and then places them into some of America’s neediest schools on the assumption that you just have to be smart to teach. What TFA is not actually looking for are people who want to be teachers, but rather, people who will have “important” jobs later in life who can advocate for public education. That’s why TFA recruits are asked to give only a two-year commitment to teaching.
Dayton also said in the letter explaining the veto on the TFA line item:
My principal concern, however, is the way in which TFA was selected as the recipient of this grant. To my knowledge, no competitive grant program was established; no other applications were solicited; and no objective review was made by an independent panel of experts. Instead, the funds were inserted into the Senate’s Higher Education bill, directed to this organization, and retained in the Conference Committee’s report.
Teach For America spends a lot of money lobbying legislators — including some in the U.S. Congress — for money and friendly regulations, such as one that allows student teachers to be declared “highly qualified” to meet the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Every other governor should read Dayton’s letter.