The Onion Skewers Teach For America

Categories: Education

Sometimes The Onion does a marvelous job in skewering an issue in just a few words, and its effort on Teach For America is one such gloriously satirical case.

In it, a fresh-faced college girl writes about "My Year Volunteering As A Teacher Helped Educate A New Generation Of Underprivileged Kids," which is hilarious enough, especially to those of us tired of hearing about how one or two years in the classroom makes these TFA veterans instant authorities. (***Yes, there are some good teachers who come out of the program.)

But what takes the Onion piece to the next level is the "Counterpoint" by fourth-grade student Brandon Mendez entitled: "Can We Please, Just Once, Have A Real Teacher?"

The knocks against TFA have included the fact that often these novice teachers -- who chose to study something other than education in college -- try out their newfound skills on kids in the poorest schools, which usually means those in need of the most help.

The fourth-grader (and yes, it's a parody) writes:

"Just once, it would be nice to walk into a classroom and see a teacher who has a real, honest-to-God degree in education and not a twentysomething English graduate trying to bolster a middling GPA and a sparse law school application."

Although TFA officials would argue otherwise, not a ton of TFA teachers stay in teaching for the long haul; most use it as a résumé builder. Some use it to run for school boards. TFA officials counter that even if they don't stay in teaching, these folks going on to higher office better understand the needs of children and education.

Well, The Onion just said hooey to that.

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So this is a post on how great an Onion article is?


Hilarious and as usual, TFA whiners emerge.


I find the digs at the Teach for America retention level in the education field to be a bit one sided. It is true that a little over half of corps members leave after their two-year commitment, but about half of teachers nationwide quit the profession after just five years. 


Yeah, it's a funny piece of satire, but I think TFA is unfairly being targeted here. The Onion piece doesn't mention TFA specifically, or any similar organization that works with schools to put teachers in the classroom, such as NYC Teaching Fellows, for that matter. Plus, to say that TFA is comprised of those who chose to study something other than education in college is simply untrue - there are teachers in TFA who hold education degrees and certification already. Also, alternative certification programs exist so teachers without a teaching degree can get their certification. Are all these teachers in TFA? No.

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