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In today’s Harvard Crimson, student columnist Sandra Korn puts forth a piece with a juicy headline: Don’t Teach For America. In it, she details her personal objection to programs like TFA that offer an alternate path to teaching in high-need communities. Because we believe so deeply in the power of one generation to change what’s possible for the next, we hope her piece will spark debate and dialogue on this country’s educational crisis across dining halls, lecture halls and late night study sessions in the days to come. But with so much riding on our ability to come together around meaningful solutions, we also hope these conversations will move beyond certain kneejerk misrepresentations Ms. Korn puts forth to include a few of the basic facts about our mission, program and approach.
Ultimately, we must decide what we want the debate on education in this country to look like. On the one hand, we can choose to demean certain educators and their pathway to this work – tossing around words like “neoliberal” and well-worn, inaccurate critiques that protect the status quo. On the other – following the lead of the Crimson editorial staff in their prompt response op-ed– we can have the tough, honest conversations it will take to make meaningful change for a generation of students that simply cannot wait. We cast our vote for the latter.
Becky O’Neill is a communications director for Teach For America. A native of New York City (and proud NJ transplant), she has the good fortune to spend her days hearing from ordinary people doing extraordinary things, from Chicago to the Carolinas. Becky has a B.A. from Princeton and an M.A. from Columbia’s Institute for Research in African American Studies.