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Is Teach for America Flunking Out?

As students head back to school in the coming days, the lowest number of new Teach for America (TFA) teachers since the start of the decade will go with them—just 4,100 new “corps members,” down from an incoming group of 6,000 in 2013.

For the past 25 years, the nonprofit organization has been recruiting young college graduates to spend two years teaching in low-income school districts after participating in a five-week summer training program. TFA’s growth over that period of time has been steady, increasing its operating budget straight through the Great Recession.

But now, as TFA’s applicant pool shrinks and recruitment dips, its critics are claiming that alumni horror stories and ideological critiques of the organization are finally starting to take their toll. TFA, on the other hand, maintains that ongoing economic recovery is impacting their recruitment by driving top-tier applicants away from teaching.