It seems counter-intuitive that a program designed to send high-octane college graduates into high-poverty schools would produce graduates with a limited sense of civic engagement. But a sweeping new study by two Stanford University professors suggests just that. The study is published in an academic journal and isn’t available on the Web.
According to a New York Times article on the study:
In areas like voting, charitable giving and civic engagement, graduates of the program lag behind those who were accepted but declined and those who dropped out before completing their two years, according to Doug McAdam, a sociologist at Stanford University, who conducted the study with a colleague, Cynthia Brandt.
The reasons for the lower rates of civic involvement, Professor McAdam said, include not only exhaustion and burnout, but also disillusionment with Teach for America’s approach to the issue of educational inequity, among other factors.
Wendy Kopp, TFA’s founder, counters that:
“It’s hard to see the incredible outpouring of interest among this generation and think of it as a lack of civic engagement,” Ms. Kopp said.
“Unfortunately,” she added, “it doesn’t seem as if this study looked at Teach for America’s core mission, by evaluating whether we are producing more leaders who believe educational inequity is a solvable problem, who have a deep understanding of the causes and solutions, and who are taking steps to address it in fundamental and lasting ways.”
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