Drafting Off TFA

lance armstrongNot to go all John Kerry on you, but it’s time for a French lesson.  In cycling, “drafting” — riding close behind someone else — saves 20% to 40% of your energy; someone who leads the way so others can follow is a “domestique.”  

One less unnoticed contribution of Teach For America is as an 800-pound domestique.  Not only do they do a hell of a job recruiting top college grads, but they make it easy for other little organizations, like ours, to do that.  

We started a small program in 2004 called MATCH Corps.  It’s a one-year full-time tutoring gig.  Housing, health care, small stipend, occasional homemade lasagna.  Optional teacher training component.   

This year 1,871 applied*  for 70 slots.  We had to turn away amazing people.  We had to reject 10 out of 11 applicants from Yale.  “No” to all 17 applicants from UC Berkeley and all 13 applicants from MIT.  We turned down 23 out of 25 from Northwestern and 24 of 26 from UPenn.  It was insane.  I won’t even talk about what happened with the good folks of UVa, or Andy R will delete this post.   

We try to guide these talented applicants to other service programs.  

We’re hardly the only program to draft off TFA.  They educate tens of thousands of seniors on America’s K-12 needs.  Some apply to TFA, sure. But some apply to programs they never would have explored.  I bet a few even end up in Ed Schools!  

Policy lesson: While there’s obviously not infinite “scalability” in deploying top college grads, we’ve hardly tapped out this human resource.  

Guestblogger Mike Goldstein

*Measurable spike around Obama’s inauguration.