As for-profit jobs dwindle, applications for public service rise

According to service organizations such as Teach for America and the Peace Corps, the floundering economy, coupled with President Barack Obama’s call for service, have resulted in a major jump in applications, The Associated Press reports. Teach for America had received a record 14,000 applications by November, an almost 50 percent increase over the previous year, while Peace Corps applications rose 16 percent from fiscal year 2007 to 2008, with a big spike around the time of Obama’s inauguration.Michael Brown, co-founder and CEO of Boston-based City Year, said the current economic downturn and lack of jobs have contributed to a boost in volunteerism. His organization, which places young adults as tutors and mentors for school children, has seen applications more than triple in the past year.

“It’s not just a matter of needing employment, which I think is still important, but there’s something in a declining economy that clarifies all our values,” Brown said. “Young folks are saying, ‘I’m needed more than ever because I’m needed in this economy. Now is the time I should go do this.’ ”

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3 Responses to As for-profit jobs dwindle, applications for public service rise

  1. Amanda Davenport says:

    That’s an interesting point Brown makes – that a bad economy makes us more service oriented…i’m not sure i completely buy that. there are a lot of college kids who think they will do anything to make a steady 40 grand plus benefits right out of school. If Teach for America was honest about their retention numbers I would bet that they would show a drop as the number of applicants rise. unfortunately those numbers are SERIOUSLY skewed.

  2. JesseAlred says:

    I am veteran teacher from Houston seeking a dialogue with current and past Teach for America teachers regarding what appears to be a pattern of TFA leaders and alumni in school district leadership positions espousing conservative ideas and profiting from close relationships with reactionary corporations, while self-righteously proclaiming they are the new civil rights movement. I first became aware of this when a former local TFA Director, now a school board member, recently proposed to fire teachers based on test scores and opposed allowing us to vote to have a single union.

    The conservative-TFA nexus began at the beginning, when Union Carbide sponsored Wendy Kopp’s initial efforts to create Teach for America. A few years before, Union Carbide’s negligence had caused the worst industrial accident in history, in Bhopal, India. The number of casualties was as large as 100,000, and Union Carbide did everything possible to minimize taking responsibility for the event. Not only did Union Carbide provide financial support for Ms. Kopp, it provided her with other corporate contacts and office space for her and her staff.

    A few years later, when TFA faced severe financial difficulties, Ms. Kopp wrote in her book she nearly went to work for the Edison Project, and was all but saved by their managerial assistance. The Edison Project, founded by a Tennessee entrepreneur, was an effort to replace public schools run by elected school boards with for-profit, corporate-run schools. Her husband, Richard Barth, served as an executive for Edison, before taking over at KIPP Foundation, where he has been linked with efforts to create a union-free environment.

    In 2000, two brilliant TFA alumni, the founders of KIPP Academy, then joined the Bush’s at the Republican National Convention in 2000. This was vital to Bush, since as Governor he did not really have any genuine education achievements, and he was trying to prove he was a different kind of Republican. And everyone knows about Michelle Rhee’s prescription for improving D.C. Schools: close schools rather than improving them, and fire teachers rather than inspiring them.

    Wendy Kopp’s idea for Teach for America was a good one. TFA teachers do great work. But its leaders often seem to blame teachers, public schools and teachers’ organizations for the achievement gap. By blaming teachers for some deep-seated social problems this nation has, they are not only providing an inaccurate critique, they feed conservatives more ammunition to use in their twenty-eight year war against using government as a problem solver.

    Our achievement gap mirrors our country’s level of economic inequality, the greatest among affluent nations. Better schools are only part of the solution. Stable families are more able to be ambitious for their children than insecure, overworked and struggling ones. Our society has failed our schools by permitting the middle class to shrink.(It’s not the other way around.) As more people are starting to recognize, we need national health care, a stronger union movement, long-term unemployment benefits, generous college funding, immigration reform, trade policy, freedom for alternative lifestyles and reductions in military spending to bolster the middle class.

    Ms. Kopp claims to be in the tradition of the civil rights movement, but Martin Luther King would take principled positions—against the Vietnam War and for the Poor Peoples March—even when it pissed off powerful people. His final speech, the night of his assassination, was on behalf of striking Memphis sanitation workers. In his last book, he argued for modifying American capitalism to include some measure of wealth distribution. I would like a dialogue about what I have written here. My e-mail is You as an individual TFA teacher has a responsibility here because your work alone gives TFA leaders credibility (its not the other way around.)

  3. jvaconsulting says:

    What about it, current and past Teach for America teachers? Would you like to weigh in on Jesse Alred’s comments?


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