The Washington Post‘s Nick Anderson reports that U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was grilled by Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) yesterday about why he proposed eliminating the set aside for Teach for America in the Administration FY2011 federal budget.
“We made some tough calls. And what we did is we simply eliminated all the earmarks. We increased the chance for competition,” Duncan said.
“Teach for America is an earmark?” Doggett asked.
“It was a set-aside,” Duncan clarified. The organization, he said, would have “every opportunity to compete and get, frankly, significantly more money.”
My question is: Why should TFA receive such a set aside while other high-quality education non-profits do not? What about KIPP, Urban Teacher Residency United, The New Teacher Project? How about the nonprofit I work for, the New Teacher Center? All of these nonprofits are national in scope. Is there something special about TFA that merits direct federal funding and forces these other organizations to exclaim, “We’re not worthy!”?
Frankly, I like the Administration’s competitive approach. Let the cream rise to the top. That’s a very American concept.
UPDATE: Here’s more on the TFA funding issue from Eduwonk.