Guest Post Series. Part Two: Why I Walked Away from TFA (And Why You Should Think About It)

This is the second in a new series of ‘guest posts.’  The more intelligent TFA corps members quickly realize that something ‘just isn’t right’ about TFA.  Quitting is a tough, but brave, thing to do.  Writing about why you chose to quit is even tougher and braver, which is why I appreciate this guest post from former TFA corps member Jenna Harrison.

Why I Walked Away from TFA (And Why You Should Think About It)

January 7, 2013 is a day that I almost wish never happened. I recall spending the better part of that afternoon glued to my phone like my life depended on it. As a second semester senior, this was my big break. I needed a job. I needed a plan. At least that’s what I told myself. I didn’t quite know what I wanted out of my life, but I did know that I wanted to make a difference in someone else’s. That’s when I found Teach for America and all my problems were solved. …Or so I thought.

I mean in theory, who wouldn’t want to be a part of Teach for America? Who wouldn’t want to participate in a “movement bigger than oneself” to help “bridge the opportunity gap” and bring about “transformational change”? At the time it sounded like a dream, and thanks to some clever marketing, a few witty buzzwords, and a lot of personal naïveté, I was hooked.

Finally, around 3 o’clock, my phone rang and on my screen flashed the exclamatory subject line: “Congratulations and Welcome to the 2013 Corps!” Whoa. It was real. The organization that I dreamed for years to be a part of was accepting me (me! of all people!) to work with them to help change the world. After reading further I learned that I was placed in Los Angeles teaching Secondary Science. I was enthralled. I was proud. It was now my turn to join an organization with so much prestige, to leave my native Philadelphia and move to the West Coast, and to use my talents in science to help change the lives of those less privileged than myself. You could almost say I felt saintly.

From January 7 onward, life felt like a blur. The second I signed my name in blood to TFA I began my “On-Boarding” process, completing various background checks, flying cross-country to California to take rigorous certification exams, and participating in interviews with potential employers. Suddenly my last chapter of college became engulfed in TFA’s mission, and while I was a bit nervous, I couldn’t help but feel like I was a part of something greater. Finally, with much anticipation, on June 11 I boarded my flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles and never looked back. That’s when everything started to change.

In retrospect, I truly started to feel negatively towards Teach for America my very first day of training. During those five weeks I was expecting to be welcomed by TFA staff, to learn a bit more about the region I would be teaching in, to get to know some of the colleagues with whom I would be spending the rest of my two-year commitment, and most importantly, to learn how to become the most effective teacher I could be. I couldn’t have been more wrong. If anything, I felt like TFA was utilizing its summer Institute to indoctrinate each of the bright-eyed, optimistic, young college graduates they recruited even more than they already had begun to brainwash during the On-Boarding process. Slowly but surely I found myself falling victim to a grueling, almost sadistic daily routine. Each morning my peers and I woke around 5 AM, got ready, grabbed breakfast, took the bus to our school site, spent one hour as lead teacher in a classroom of summer school students, took a break for lunch, and sat in seminars led by TFA staffers until roughly 5 PM. Afterwards, we would take the bus back to our dormitories, have a quick dinner, and spend the better part of each evening devising lesson plans to ultimately be torn apart by our Corps Member Advisors later the next day. For five weeks the pattern continued. Eventually I started to lose sight of the outcome I was once so passionately working towards. Each day just seemed like another obstacle in the way of my survival as a young teacher. No wonder TFA teachers are known to experience burnout at such a high rate.

Aside from the “boot camp” mentality that is associated with TFA summer Institute, there are a multitude of other shortcomings that need to be addressed. In short, five weeks simply is not enough. Before entering the program, I strongly believed that cramming five weeks of pedagogical training into the brains of young college graduates was indeed just as effective as a well-paced, four-year undergraduate program. However, upon my entrance to the classroom I found that to be downright untrue. Hands-on experience in the classroom was indeed enriching, but one hour each day was not nearly enough time to foster the skills (and even physical endurance) it takes to teach competently, differentiate learning, check for understanding, and manage a classroom in a non-dictatorial manner.

Moreover, majority of the seminars led by TFA staffers were more detrimental than helpful to my development as a first-year teacher. While I appreciated the sentiment behind the sessions on culturally responsive teaching, many a time they continued to contribute to the racist mentality I believed that TFA was perpetuating through its recruits. Majority of these sessions consisted of a person of color preaching to a room full of Corps Members that white people are the reason why our students suffer. As an individual who is very well-versed in white privilege, I believe it is downright ignorant to blame an entire country’s shortcomings in educational equity simply on race. Instead of wasting precious instructional time on essentially brainwashing its Corps Members, Teach for America should focus its efforts instead on recruiting CMs that are well-versed in ALL of the injustices individuals face in our global society – regardless of their sex, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious background, etc.

As for sessions focused on improving pedagogy, there is no word more descriptive than pitiful. From a teacher who had a class size of 40 in a school boasting a 37% SPED population with no in-class RSP support, a 45-minute presentation on IEPs is simply inadequate. Period. In terms of classroom management, I remember being told by a TFA staffer that student obedience yields success. To this day I have never felt more sick to my stomach than I did in that moment. As time went by, I realized very quickly TFA did not value my students as the unique, incredible individuals that I grew to know and love as my own. Instead, they were just skewed data points in “scientifically-based” studies released to the public each year.

I think it goes without saying that many nights during Institute I found myself very frustrated with Teach for America. This was the exact opposite I had felt before joining the corps – an organization who prided itself on being truly dedicated to closing our nation’s opportunity gap. However, the more time I had spent with the organization, the more disappointed I became. More than anything, Teach for America has arrogantly shed its humble roots. While many consider TFA an incredible charity organization, people need to realize that teaching is by no means charity work. Our students, regardless of color, zip code, or background, deserve a top notch education. With constant turnover in low-income schools and an extremely CM low retention rate (that TFA refuses to release to the public), Teach for America denies that basic right to our students. In recent years, Teach for America has become incredibly corporate, drawing much of its funding from the Walton Foundation, an organization that exploits many of our students families, and using its political ties to push its own agenda towards the privatization of our nation’s schools, “no excuses” charters, and Common Core Standards to even further perpetuate the educational inequity it claims to fight against. There is also an enormous savior complex amongst many CMs and staff alike. Our students need no one to “save them.” Instead, they deserve individuals devoted to living in community and working together towards collective improvement. As the proud product of a Jesuit education, there is something to be said about working “with” a community as opposed to working “for” one. Teach for America has no grasp on this concept or on the idea of social justice in general. On a similar note, it should go without saying that recruiting CMs that clearly desire the position as a resume builder does nothing but objectify our children. I can’t begin to describe the number of other Corps Members I met who straightforwardly admitted they were using Teach for America as a stepping stone to medical school, law school, etc.

As Institute came to a close, each of TFA’s newly-indoctrinated drones (myself included) began work at his or her placement school site. While my students very quickly began to become the center of my universe, at the end of each day, I felt myself breaking down more and more. I was burning out. I had no idea what I was doing, and I knew that academically I was failing my students – whom I loved (and continue to love) as my own children. I could not stand to subject them to TFA’s fraud any longer. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, I just couldn’t take it any more. I felt reduced to nothing. After a letter of resignation, a number of exit interviews, and a scathing message from one of my region’s staffers, I had resigned from Teach for America. My TFA nightmare was finally over, and I was headed home to Philadelphia to pick up the pieces – but not without some minor harassment from my “superiors.”

While I understand that commitments of any kind should never be broken unless under extreme circumstances, the over response I received from TFA staffers during my resignation process was downright disturbing. For about a month and a half my life became a constant guilt trip as I continued to receive text messages, emails, and phone calls “urging” me not to “give up on my students.” In fact, my personal well-being was less important to TFA than the two hours I spent every other day with each of my students. On multiple occasions I was told that I was overreacting to my situation and that my resignation had the potential to destroy the lives of my students forever.

My favorite statement I received in response to my resignation reads below:


 I assume it [your reason for leaving] is severe, given that you are cutting your commitment even shorter than we had understood from you previously.  This is an extreme situation, Jenna; you are putting your students, the school, and our partnership at risk given the time of year that you are departing.  I know this was not your plan when you applied to TFA, or when you accepted your offer, or when you accepted the role at Dr. Rhodes’ school.  However, regardless of your intentions, it’s leaving both the school and TFA*LA in a lurch. 


…please do consider the commitments you make, going forward, and who they will impact in the short and long term.”


At the same token it is important for me to also communicate that teaching was an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and my students have ceased to leave the center of my universe. It makes my day every day to continue to be an important figure in their lives, whether or not I am still in the classroom. I can only hope that the time I did spend with them was positive enough to leave a lasting impact. However, one year later, I continue to see the detrimental effects of Teach for America in my own city. After the layoffs of thousands of veteran teachers in inner-city Philadelphia, I can’t help but look to Teach for America. The replacement of veteran teachers with significantly cheaper, severely inexperienced ones is an incredible detriment to our students. The fact that TFA charges already-suffering public districts for the use of its CMs is the icing on the cake. While it was brought to my attention that the new San Diego Corps has been placing its CMs in vacancies that couldn’t be filled previously by the city, implementing this in one location simply is not good enough. If every location followed San Diego’s lead, TFA would make a significantly more positive impact on its communities.

Although my thoughts towards TFA are overwhelmingly more negative than positive, I do believe that the organization was truly created with the best intentions in mind for our students. At the time of Teach for America’s launch, there indeed was a tremendous teacher shortage in our country, and I strongly believe that the organization and its Corps Members had a very positive impact on America’s schools. However, with the transformation of our nation’s political climate and economic status, among other reasons, not only is Teach for America detrimental to the American public education system, it is perpetuating the very flaws that it initially set out to improve.

I would like to believe that Teach for America would be open to constructive criticism, but in light of recent events, I can’t help but feel the organization is a well-oiled, political, corporate machine. If the organization as a whole truly did care about the welfare of our nation’s students, they would be more open to discussion and less concerned with political clout and fiscal stability. Again, I do believe many TFA staff have the best intentions in mind, but as an organization TFA is simply dodging bullets and failing to address some very valid arguments posed by some of our nation’s most prominent figures in education.

To be honest, I would love to see a world without Teach for America. While its initial intentions yielded a positive impact, TFA is doing nothing but perpetuating the educational inequity it claims to fight against. My opinions on the organization have not changed since day one, and although I would have liked to voice them while involved with the program, I felt it was too risky as I had seen a few fellow CMs asked to leave for being brave enough to share their thoughts. I do feel that Corps Members are cogs in the well-oiled TFA machine, and I know that I am not alone. If anyone out there reading this is interested in Teach for America or is about to begin summer Institute in a few short weeks, I ask of you what I constantly asked of my students: Do your homework. It will save you one heck of a mess in the future.

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35 Responses to Guest Post Series. Part Two: Why I Walked Away from TFA (And Why You Should Think About It)

  1. Been there. says:

    Jenna, I was where you are. I realized my mistake on the first day of orientation and I should have left then. I wanted to teach and hoped that drive (and hopefully some talent) would be enough to compensate for the lack of training. It did not. I was placed in a subject area I did not desire teaching, far from my city, but I pushed on.. not wanting to give up. A few months into teaching, it was very clear to me that I was not the best teacher for my students.

    Prior to leaving,I went to TfA for help and the person in charge (at the ripe old age of approx. 26) told me that I would be another person letting down my students and alluded to my role in the high rates of incarceration.

    I knew there was a teacher out there who could be more effective than me and I left. I carry that with me, but I know it was the best decision for me and for my students. I went back to school and trained properly to be a teacher in the subject area I am passionate about. I am employed in a Title I school in a supported district and things are going very well. All of this is to say,if you want to teach you can! Do not let this define your past or your future. Best of luck to you.

    • Jenna Harrison says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story and for your kind words. It sounds like our experiences as CMs were all too similar. Always glad to know I’m not alone, and even happier to know that you are receiving all the support you deserve in your new district. All the best!

    • Hello. I am a Teach for America CM and I want desperately to quit. I am assigned to Head Start. It is awful. The students are out of control. They were that way when I got them and I am expected to change them. There is no support. You can vent to them, but ultimately their bottom line is to to keep going because the kids need me. If they need me so badly, why is my commitment only for two years? TFA does not prepare teachers for the real classroom. I am miserable and I feel trapped. My commitment will not expire until June 2017. I doubt if I will make it. I have applied to other districts as an assistant. I do not care about the pay cut; my mental health is more important.

      • Ali says:

        Hi Scared- I teach preschool (gen ed and special needs.) If you could like some help- email me at alibr0008 (at) gmail dot com. I will do my best to help you.
        Signed- Been There

      • Mary says:

        I’m sorry you’re having a tough time, friend. To your comment “why is my commitment only for two years” I’d advocate that your commitment is what YOU make of it and that’s all that matters (see other comments on this thread for similar sentiments). If you leave now, will your students be without a teacher or taught by a parade of substitutes for the remainder of the school year? If yes, I’d entreat you to hang in there for a few more months, at which point you should certainly leave if you still feel the job is not a good fit or taxing on your mental health.

  2. WriteToThink says:

    thank you so much for sharing this. it makes me feel like I am not alone, although not a firmer TFA drone, but THIS is how it is at every charter school. I was told the other day by a consultant to our school that an academic dean is more about coaching than knowing pegagogy. “Look up academic dean at a university.” trying to get out of education. For the second time. thank you for your blog.

    • Jenna Harrison says:

      Thank you also for sharing your story. You absolutely are not alone; I know more than a few former colleagues of mine who felt the same way in their charter schools. Good luck and thank you again for the kind words.

  3. WriteToThink says:

    Sorry about the typos in my comment!

  4. Dave Shearon says:

    Wow. Sounds like an incredibly tough experience. And, I suspect that TFA’s training process could be improved. However, the author’s conclusions are supported only by personal anecdotes that do not fit the facts. TFA teachers perform better than those from other teacher prep programs, at least in TN on value-added analysis. (Personal conversation with Dr. William Sanders. I suspect a report on this analysis is available, but have not looked for it.) The suggestion that those who enter teaching from a more traditional teacher prep process are better prepared seems unsupported.

    Teaching is tough. And, most new teachers are relatively ineffective, though some seem to be able to get students to learn above average even in there first year. I suspect all could benefit from more support, training in resilience skills, and better leadership. Hopefully, TFA, other alternative programs, and traditional teacher prep programs are seriously questioning how they can improve the way they help teacher candidates prepare. That questioning must be guided by empirical evidence of overall results, not the conclusions of one for whom a particular approach did not work.

    • Kellen says:

      lol. Based on value-added analysis. Is that a reliable metric?

      • Dave Shearon says:

        When used for analyzing the relative effectiveness of various groups of teachers with large numbers of students for policy leadership, yes, value-added analysis is a very useful tool.

      • Kellen says:

        The ASA published a study with the opposite findings sir, suggesting that for policy decision it is not an effective tool. A study funded by the Gates Foundation and led by the Dean of the Ed school at Penn found the variance in test scores that could be attributed to teachers was around 1-14%, with systemic factors such as class composition to be a much more determinant factor. A lawsuit filed in Florida ended with a ruling that determined use of the model was not unconstitutional, but the judge in his decision blasted the fairness of the system. I would suspect that other legal challenges will be successful, like the one currently involving a former teacher of the year in Houston who saw his scores dramatically swing from year to year.

        I’m not sure how you can defend the use of value added models particularly when jobs are on the line.. I would assume you’re affiliated with TFA, which would make sense.

        Click to access ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

    • Jenna Harrison says:

      Thanks for weighing in, Dave. While indeed this post is entirely a personal anecdote, there is strong data to prove how inadequate Teach for America’s training process is to its Corps Members and how detrimental its ill-trained products are to our nation’s students.

      Speaking in terms of data, beware of value-added analysis. “Research” and other “data” is very frequently skewed in favor of TFA or other alternative-route programs. Again, your thoughts are very appreciated!

      • Dave Shearon says:

        Jenna, I have been following value-added for decades. It it’s solid for these purposes. First year teachers are, as a group, highly ineffective. There may be teacher training programs somewhere in the country that do a better job than TFA, but not in Tennessee.

  5. Mary says:

    Uuuggghhh. Gary, I support many of your critical posts of Teach For America, but these guest posts are terrible. 5 weeks of training is insufficient for teaching pedagogy but is enough time for the author to fall in love with her students “as her own children”?? That bit of hyperbole aside, the phrase “as an individual who is very well-versed in white privilege” immediately invalidates everything that comes after (and before). Lending your blog as a platform for alternative perspectives, fine, but “intelligent, tough & brave” this re-telling is not. Come on. If this were a blog post on Teach For Us with an alternative ending (I stayed vs I went), you would tear it to shreds with glee.

    • Jenna Harrison says:


      Sorry to hear you weren’t fond of my post. Please let me clarify a few things. While we can both agree that five weeks is entirely inadequate to provide a new teacher with everything necessary to be as effective as possible to his/her students, it is important to note that love and compassion cannot be taught. I am so thankful for the four months I did spend with my students (not five weeks as you previously understood) as the relationships I formed with them still have not been tarnished as time has continued to pass. Although you weren’t in my position, I can assure you it is not hyperbole.

      I think it’s also important for me to clarify my comments on white privilege. By noting that I am “well-versed” in white privilege, I mean to say that I have experienced many of the negative effects that white privilege forces upon people of color (not that I have benefited from the effects of white privilege as you may have previously understood). My apologies for the lack of clarity in that statement. Again, sorry for your disappointment in my post and know that I am always willing to discuss my experience with TFA further. All the best to you.

    • Zee says:

      I hear you, Mary. I wanted to read this post and hear what the author was saying but the style just used up all my goodwill and I gave up about halfway through. Maybe next time, give us more of the voice displayed in the comments instead of the same old talking points?

      • Jenna Harrison says:

        Zee, if they are the “same old talking points,” why hasn’t TFA induced change? Or why haven’t they at least provided us with a valid, statistically-sound reply?

    • WriteToThink says:

      If you are there to teach, you can begin to love your kids in one day. so, yes, five weeks is plenty to think of them as one’s own.

      generally speaking, we are teaching kids who have less and less parenting, this requires a recent graduate of college who is barely 22 MORE training given 22 itself is quite young to take on a profession that used to be a life long vocation filled with pride, hardwork, and joy. It wasn’t ever supposed to be a pump and dump model like TFA has become.

      • Mary says:

        Hi, I taught, and I remained keenly aware throughout my tenure that these are NOT my kids — they are entrusted to me for a few hours every day by their parents and guardians, by the school, by the community, to teach them how to write and tell their stories. They only get English 7 once. That is what kept me going when I wanted to quit, and pushed me to be a better teacher everyday: that sense of personal responsibility to do well by them. The author’s “favorite statement” from TFA-LA re: honoring commitments is absolutely correct. Sorry, but if she left in the middle of the school year, then damn straight she left a bunch of people in a lurch, including the students she had come to love as her own children.

      • Jenna Harrison says:

        While we can both agree that as a teacher, the influence we have on a student’s life can at times be very limited, Teach for America thinks otherwise. As new Corps Members we are told repeatedly during Institute that we have the power to transform a student’s entire life through the hour or so per day we spend with him or her. While I do believe that a teacher has the power to make a very positive impact on a student’s life, I also believe that that same teacher can make a detrimental impact as well. With my limited pedagogical training, support, and coaching I felt that I was failing my students. And while walking away from the classroom was one of the hardest things I have ever done, I felt that it was the best decision for both myself and my students. Would you let a physician with five weeks of training give you open-heart surgery? You may pride yourself on the fact that your students were your motivation to keep pushing harder, but you had the tools. I pushed and pushed until my own health had been compromised. Just like your students got English 7 once, my students only get Biology once. They deserve someone who is truly qualified to give them an education that will benefit them in the long-run. And because I love my students, I opted to give them just that.

        What about Teach for America do you support, Mary? What has made you so adamant about personally attacking my decisions instead of addressing the bigger issues at hand? I am not the first (nor will I be the last) person to leave Teach for America before the end of my commitment. As far as I’m concerned, that alone is a clear indicator that the organization has much deeper issues that need to be addressed. Maybe we should focus more on the bigger picture in this discourse instead of judging people for making certain decisions in situations which we have never experienced. It will be more beneficial to our children.

  6. Jess says:

    In so many ways, I felt like I was reading my own story as I perused this article! I am also a 2013 CM and will also not be teaching in the coming year. I also was also burnt out by Institute, stunningly underprepared for the challenges I would face in my own classroom, and increasingly aware of the harmful underhanded corporate agenda of TfA on the national scale. I have just finished an immensely difficult year of teaching in an incredibly challenging school and the worst part of it by far has been letting down the students that I have come to love so much. They, and all students, deserve so much better than poorly and inadequately trained CMs like me. I tried my absolute hardest this year, working overly long hours and running myself into the ground (as you stated, this is a lifestyle that Institute/TfA actually encourages!) and still was not able to succeed in managing the extreme behaviors that happened in my classroom or in sufficiently differentiating in order to best serve my kids. I was laughably underprepared.

    And as much as my own experience relates to how ineffective TfA is, it goes so much further than you and me! In my region in my year, I am 1 of 3 CMs in a district school and EVERYONE else is in charter schools. My friends and fellow CMs tell me that these schools openly break laws. There is no accountability. There are students whose IEP provisions are not being met, students who don’t get enough ELL services, students who are getting NO social studies, science, or any other instruction of material that is not on state tests, and a host of other problematic issues as well. I have become quite disillusioned by the charter school agenda. There is simply not enough oversight; they have too much freedom to break laws. And TfA supplies so many CMs to them, effectively keeping these ineffective schools in operation! I have become so disgusted by TfA throughout my first year teaching, both on a personal level (how it was unable to help me through my very difficult situation this year) and on the national scale (by the corporate ed reform agenda it espouses). I agree with every point you made. TfA started out as a good organization and it still has a noble mission (my experience has opened my eyes to the horrendous educational inequities that plague our country) but it fails in that mission and actually perpetuates the agenda is purports to fight against. Our nation’s low income kids deserve way better than this travesty. Thank you for writing this!

    • Jenna Harrison says:

      Jess, thank you for such a thoughtful reply. I am sorry to hear that our stories seem disturbingly similar, but know that you are absolutely not alone in your experience or your thoughts. Would love to talk more in detail with you in the future. All the best!

  7. Anonymous says:

    I don’t understand how leaving the classroom after 4 months can be the “best possible thing” for the students. Regardless of your personal opinions about the issue, there is nothing more hurtful to the students. I have seen two teachers at my school leave mid-year and heard students speak out about the negative effects of their departure.

    At the very least, a decision to stay throughout the year would have been prudent. The first year of teaching is hard, everyone will tell you that. Screw what TFA thinks – uphold your personal commitment to your students. Your commitment is more important than the one that you made to them.

  8. Sue says:

    Thanks so much for being brave enough to share your TFA story. The beginning of your story could have been my own – I, too, was accepted into the 2013 corps (January notification, in fact) and was thrilled, as TFA was my first choice for post-grad employment. I headed down to Institute in June, but ended up taking an emergency release in the second week due to a close family member’s illness. I was all geared up to return this summer, until I started spending a considerable time at my old high school, trying to observe my favorite teachers and prepare myself as best I could. To my shock, these excellent, veteran educators that had inspired my own interest in teaching hated TFA.

    My uneasiness only increased when I was given an interview with KIPP, and despite voicing all of my concerns about charter schools, asking about attrition rates, unfair disciplinary procedures, etc. to the interviewer was offered a position, which TFA’s first placement policy mandated I accept. This in a district where over 300 public school teachers had just been laid off and zero-based hiring instituted — since when was TFA placing teachers in a high-paying charter that supposedly received hundreds of applications for each position? Was this what I had signed up for?

    I knew deep down that once I had kids in front of me it would be emotionally impossible for me to leave, so while I understand where some of the comments regarding your decision to leave mid-year are coming from, I’d also like to point out that all too often, TFA-ers don’t know what they’re getting into. I know I didn’t, at least, but was lucky enough to figure it out in time to quit before Institute started. Yes, I should have done my research, but the competitiveness of the application process, perceived prestige of the program, and seemingly dismal economy left little room for suspicion or caution in my panicked second-semester senior brain.

    I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I can attest personally to the effectiveness of the high-powered marketing you mention, and am right there with you on the naïveté. In my opinion, Anonymous might be right and your ill-timed departure might have been worse for your kids than the alternative, but it’s hard to say for sure. Looking at the big picture, TFA as an organization is doing some pretty scary stuff and I understand wanting to cut the cord. Thanks again to you and everyone else who has shared their experiences, and to Gary for keeping this blog and helping me make the right decision.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Going through this right now in a different volunteer organization, but similar in its mission. Thinking about putting in my two weeks in the next few days. Thanks, Jenna!

  10. Aurora says:

    Hi Jenna. Currently a 2017 cm on a growth plan. Switched from 8th grade to first grade at the last minute. I feel like I was set up to fail by TFA and the poor communication/admin of my placement charter school. I am Incredibly burned out and placed in the city I was born and raised in. I know depending on the state, the consequences of leaving TFA may differ. Do CMs that quit have to pay anything as a result of breaking the contract? I feel so trapped and do not want to break committments. My plan B in case my superiors see little improvement in my teaching is to resign in the coming months and apply for jobs I was offered prior to TFA.

    • garyrubinstein says:

      Hi Jenna, Sorry to hear that you had to learn the hard way what a heartless organization TFA is. Yes, you will likely be served with a bill for about $6,000 for breaking your contract. If that email you put with this post is accurate, I will email you with advice of how you can avoid paying it. Gary

      • Brittanie Perez says:

        Hi there. Aurora here. As life would have it Gary, in the past week, I was in a car accident that exacerbated preexisting health issues-mainly physical. The car accident was a sign that my body no longer had the stamina to keep teaching. I have put in my resignation citing those reasons. Prior to this, I asked my CMA if there is a financial consequence and she said no. I never accepted financial assistance/loans from TFA because I’m from my placement city itself. Please email with advice nevertheless just in case.

    • garyrubinstein says:

      Oops you’re not Jenna sorry. I will email you.

      • Sara says:

        Hi Gary, I’m a 2017 CM and strongly considering breaking my contract at the end of this school year. Do you have any advice on what to expect? Will I still get the first half of my AmeriCorps grant since I would complete one year? I’m just really concerned about how breaking the contract will reflect on me when I look for future employment.

  11. Pingback: Wherefore and Whither The Teacher Shortage?–Supply | educationrealist

  12. Sara says:

    Hi Jenna, thanks for sharing your story. I am a 2017 CM and will likely break my contract after I finish out this school year. I’ve unfortunately had similar experiences with a severe lack of support from TFA. I never hear from my MTDL, usually it’s once per quarter just to collect data from us. Our All Corps Conferences are completely useless and none of the training that I was provided with has prepared me for the chaos I have experienced this year in the classroom. My administration is in shambles, the principal and vice principal were both just removed for embezzling money from a grant that our school will no longer receive due to their crimes. Our school also has no curriculum, so we write all the tests and have been building the curriculum from the ground up. My biggest issue is behavior management. My classroom has derailed into utter chaos and I just feel so bad for the students who really value their education but are having it ruined because I literally cannot teach when I am constantly having to deal with behavior issues. My choice to do TFA has not been a positive one. It has deteriorated my personal relationships, my mental health, and my overall happiness. I have decided to break my commitment after this school year. I agree with you Jenna that if CMs break their contracts then it really reveals a bigger problem. If it was anywhere near a decent program then the CM drop rate would be non existent. TFA is a highly flawed program and I wish I had done more digging before getting myself into this mess. I feel like a failure and I’m pretty worried that breaking my contract will reflect poorly on me in my search for employment in the future. As I’m sure you know, I’m also pretty tied up in financial commitments in TFA. I’m in a lease, have grad school loans, and transitional funding loans too.
    Any advice on what I can expect when I do break the contract? Thanks

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