TFA’s message about promoting national political and economic aims was equally clear. The organization’s early recruiting letters, for instance, noted that “our nation faces a number of internal threats that call for the help of our brightest young minds.” Implicitly referencing the decline of American manufacturing and the increasing importance of a college education for maintaining economic competitiveness, they asserted that “one thing on which business and government leaders from different industries and political parties agree is that the state of the educational system is threatening America’s future.” As the organization’s first recruiter at Harvard University noted, TFA’s effort to “make America stronger” was “clearly patriotic.”
Students had a chance to observe TFA corps members teaching. Then they were treated to lunch and a panel of TFA alumni speaking about how their classroom experiences had translated into marketable skills in fields including law, politics, education advocacy and nonprofit entrepreneurship.
“We believe that this is far bigger than teaching,” Kimberly Diaz, of the organization’s D.C. regional office, told a group of prospective applicants from Georgetown and George Washington universities in April. They had just visited an elementary school in suburban Maryland and heard from alumni working outside of classrooms. “This is about dismantling systems of oppression.”
Far bigger than teaching. Your two years struggling in a sixth-grade classroom will actually be part of dismantling systems of oppression (“No, Pat, I can’t help you with your algebra right now. I’m busy dismantling a system of oppression.”)
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