Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Why Does Teach for America Spawn So Many Entrepreneurs?

Some very interesting research about how and why TFA produces so many educational entrepreneurs:

The question is whether TFA's seemingly prolific production of entrepreneurs is fact or simple hearsay. Does the TFA career experience seem to make its alumni more likely to become educational entrepreneurs? The answer appears to be yes.

In a recent article published in EducationNext, "Creating a Corps of Change Agents," Jennie Weiner, Wendy Robison, Rick Hess and I analyzed the career histories of founders and top management team members of organizations identified as "entrepreneurial" in education and found that TFA is overly represented in the career histories of both groups. Our work suggests that the skills TFA cultivates in its alumni may be connected to the spawning of new ventures and the types of jobs alumni hold in these organizations.

Of all the originating organizations that appeared in our sample of career histories, TFA appeared the most frequently…


Why Does Teach for America Spawn So Many Entrepreneurs?

8:10 AM Tuesday March 29, 2011 
by Monica Higgins | Comments (12)

Editor's note: This post is part of a three-week series examining educational innovation and technology, published in partnership with the Advanced Leadership Initiative at Harvard University.

Question: What do education entrepreneurs Sarah Usdin, founder of New Schools for New Orleans, Mike Feinberg and David Levin, cofounders of KIPP Academy, and Michelle Rhee, founder ofStudentsFirst, have in common? Answer: They're all alumni of Teach For America.

Teach For America (TFA), founded in 1989 with the goal to eliminate educational inequity in the United States, has placed more than 24,000 high-achieving college graduates in some of America's neediest schools, building a cadre of young, committed, and enthusiastic classroom teachers. A less obvious part of TFA's strategy is, through an intense process of socialization or "imprinting," to create alumni who, according to their website, "gain the conviction and insight necessary to be lifelong leaders for fundamental change, regardless of their professional sector." In this way, TFA, like all organizations, develops particular competencies through the careers of its members. However, special to TFA is its focus on creating a talent pipeline of a new, make-no-excuse generation of reformers, like Usdin, Feinberg, Levin, and Rhee, with the training and experience needed to be agents of change outside, and inside, the classroom.

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