Wendy Kopp, why is TFA abducting so many Hoyas?

This weekend is Mr. D’s 10-year college reunion.  It’s been a while since I visited old Georgetown University, and it’ll be good to catch up with my old gang.  We’re all older, fatter, balder, on more medication–but probably not wiser.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Reading a recent article in Education Week, it appears that the old alma mater is getting recognized in another category: recruiting for Teach for America. 

For my casual readers in the Neighborhood, let me just say that TFA and I have an understanding.  Ever since my last rant at the institution, it may be best that we stay out of each others way.  You wouldn’t want to see me at Wendy Kopp’s cocktail party, that’s for sure.  The johnny-come-latelys of the TFA crowd, who cry that I’m a tool of the unions and unsympathetic to the plight of children, can cram it, for all I care.

I don’t like holding a grudge, though.  First of all, TFA is too easy a punching bag.  Many of the blogs linked on my page and on others do a far better job of deflating the Kopp Reich than I.  Second, it does my readers little good to hear me complain about an institution with which I have little, if any, connection.  So I’m offering an olive branch to Wendy Kopp.  Let’s play nice, shall we?  We can have a drink, a few laughs…we can both torture kids with standardized tests.

I just have one condition.  Please stop taking so many students from Georgetown.

The sidebar of the Education Week article, which covers the record number of applications from college seniors for TFA, also gave some stats on the class of 2009.  4,100 young people will be invading classrooms next year–which is little assurance to me, as my school may lose a couple of positions.  Georgetown University’s class of 2009 had 11 percent of the seniors apply for TFA.  It is considered the largest employers of graduates on campus, joining the likes of Brown, Emory, the University of Chicago and the University of Connecticut.

Now I’m not against my fellow Hoyas pursuing a career in education.  I worry because I know my own classmates.  Whereas most are pretty decent people, I don’t see a lot of them with the stamina for a classroom in a high-needs area.  Sorry, Chip, but teaching Algebra I at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx is not like tutoring your 4th Form chums at Groton.  Also, a lot of my class was downright insufferable–the teachers’ pet type.  My kids would have a field day with these prizes.  It would be great to see that smarmy prick from my US Political Systems class get the heave-ho out a classroom window.

It must be a dismal economy that so many of my fellow Hoyas are opting for the TFA experience.  This, also, is a problem.  The economy is driving lots of people to service, but for the wrong reasons.  The teacher you want to keep is not the accounting major who’s waiting to ride out the unemployment numbers before landing the next seat at Goldman Sachs.  It’s the student who has the choice of any corporate cush-job in America, yet CHOOSES to join the noble profession of teaching. 

So Wendy, I have to ask: What’s with so many Hoyas?  Is the economy really that bad?  Or did Duke and Harvard send you to steal away talent so that their schools can get the plush jobs?  Is this payback for us taking John Thompson III away from Princeton?  Were you a Villanova fan in a past life?

I don’t know if we can ever have the answer.  Maybe it’s too complex for my union-addled mind.  What I do know is that the high rate of Hoya participation makes us look bad.  It makes us look like do-gooders and missionary-pariahs.  Its bad enough Georgetown alums are in positions at every level of government and business–positions that allow us to fuck things up in spectacular ways.  Now they’re marshalled into classrooms to teach children badly until the economy improves.  If societal destruction is your aim, we can do more damage in other sectors of society, like the White House.   

If you let in any more Hoyas, Wendy, make sure they really want to make a difference.  Otherwise, these kids will be wasting my kids’ valuable time–time they should be spending on their projects on the civil rights movement.

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