TFA ‘Set Aside’

February 26, 2010 | Blog

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.


  1. Reply

    Regina Smardon

    February 26, 2010

    How will the administration deal with claims that they are favoring particular types of districts? Or particular regions of the country? Getting rid of formulas seems like a good idea in terms of promoting innovation but education reform is so often trendy and cyclic when reforms often take more time to work. Is there a danger in rewarding innovation at the expense of sustainability? It looks to me like Schools of Education will come up short, what are the long term implications of this?

  2. Reply

    Liam Goldrick

    February 26, 2010

    All good questions, Regina. Sustainability is a real question for states that may leverage the large Race to the Top grants. The Obama Admin. has proposed linking Title I distributions to new standards. 48 of the 50 states are involved in the NGA/CCSSO effort (AK and TX being the lone holdouts). Some of the ESEA programs they've proposed consolidating are already competitive in some ways or at least require a proposal to leverage certain funding streams.

  3. Reply

    Heather S.

    February 27, 2010

    AUSL's residency program is strong, and deserves to compete with TFA for funding.

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