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Teacher Under Construction: Students Resisting Teach for America Campaign

As many of you know, last November, myself and other incredible fellow students founded and launched our student-led initiative: Students United for Public Education (SUPE). Which has now evolved into an organization with over 10 chapters.

Now, we are taking on one of our first biggest tasks: Our first on-the-ground national campaign.


We made our first public announcement about this campaign on Friday, which was the same date of TFA’s September application due date. Our announcement was made in order to initiate our fundraiser for our campaign.

In just about 3 days, we’ve raised $1,190. What I personally find so powerful is looking at who is donating. For me, looking at who is donating and supporting us speaks volumes. Some examples of our incredible donors:

Roshan Bliss, Student: TFA has been manipulating young people into working toward the privatization and commodification of our schools for far too long. So glad to see this campaign getting off the ground! Go SUPE, go!

Susan Polos, Librarian & Teacher: This is an important campaign. I am delighted to contribute to your amazing work!

Jen Johnson, Chicago Teacher: This cause is just. College students everywhere deserve to hear the other side of the story. I was duped in college into applying for TFA. I was accepted and was assigned to teach elementary school…but I was about to receive a BSed and a teaching certificate to teach high school. Showed me what TFA was really about. I woke up real fast. We need to let young people know what effect TFA really has so they can make the informed decision to either become a teacher responsibly or to dabble in some other profession to boost their resumes.

Anthony Cody, Teacher & Writer at EdWeekThanks for bringing truth to your fellow students

Stephanie Plachy, Student: Keep up the great work, SUPE! The stronghold that TFA has on so many of our college campuses has gone unchecked for far too long.

You can read more why people have supported our cause here.

As we’ve noted dozens times already, we can’t thank all of you enough–not only for donations, but your support and spreading of word. There was a lot (A LOT) of discussion and concerns among all of us at SUPE prior to making the plans for this campaign public. We all had to seriously ask ourselves: is this a campaign worth having? Will we be able to make the impact we hope to? And the level of support we’ve received in such a short period of time has assured us that we may not know what the end result of all of this will be. But, no one ever does, and we never will unless we take that step and at least dare to try.


Description of our fundraiser (original\donation page here):

Why Are We Campaigning?

For years, college campuses across the country have been the core recruiting ground for Teach for America (TFA). For many soon-to-be graduates, concerned as they should be with the rampant inequality embedded in American public schools, TFA appears to be an opportunity to make a difference.

Using the rhetoric of civil rights and egalitarian politics, TFA promises ambitious college students that their hard work and good intentions are a crucial component of what it will take to fix the crisis within our education system. Yet, as numerous TFA alums and professionals have made it increasingly clear, rather than fighting inequality, TFA actually promotes it.

The high-need schools in which most TFA corps members teach demand the most experienced teachers, not the least. TFA’s five-week-long summer institute, insufficient to prepare any new teacher, is therefore not only inadequate preparation for corps member teachers, but also unjust for the public school students who deserve nothing less than a fully-qualified and experienced instructor.

In today’s political climate, however, where many urban school districts are conducting mass layoffs and cutting teacher benefit packages, such experienced teachers are becoming increasingly rare. Here too, TFA is partially to blame, as in many of the same school districts where experienced teachers have been laid off, TFA recruits have come in to replace them.

Since most TFA teachers do not stay in their schools beyond their two-year commitment, they are far less likely to demand the higher pay and benefits, and thus stand as an attractive alternative, from the districts’ perspective, to career teachers and their unions.

Increasingly across the country, college students are becoming aware of TFA’s role in perpetuating inequality in our schools.

Our task now is to challenge the legitimized recruiting position that TFA enjoys on many of our college campuses, both by raising awareness and taking direct action.

And we know we can’t do this alone.

That is why we–Students United for Public Education (SUPE)–will be launching the first national student-led campaign against Teach for America.


Our campaign is planned to include:


*Example of flyering already being done by SUPE member*

  • Distribution of campaign tool-kits (via PDF) to students at different campuses interested in participating.These tool-kits will include flyers, different tactics to approach/bring awareness about TFA on their campus, etc.
  • Creating a website about our campaign along with different resources and articles in which students can learn more about the resistance against TFA from not only students, but TFA alum, teachers, and other professionals.
  • Providing prospective TFA corps members with testimonies (from students who oppose TFA/chose not to do TFA and TFA alumni who now oppose the organization) so they can make an informed decision.
  • Teach-Ins where students can learn more about TFA resistance
  • Panelists of TFA Alums, professionals, and students
  • Other ideas are still welcomed!


What Do We Need Funding For?

In order to effectively run this 25-day long campaign (October 25th is their next application’s due date), we do need funds of some sort (after all, we are just college students!).

Below is listed where your funds will be used. We will be transparent on how each dollar is spent throughout the campaign, and the funds that aren’t used by the end of this campaign will be deposited into our SUPE General Funds.

We thank you all in advance for your support, and we look forward to our official launch date on October 1st.

Funds Will Be Used For:

  • Color Flyers: 2,000 flyers (Staples) = $300
  • Stickers: 2,000 stickers ( –> $200
  • Website: Domain ( = $25
  • Travel Expenses for Panelists: $1000
  • GoFundMe Fee: (5% for each donation received) = ~$77.5


Contact Us:
Twitter: @SUPEnational


Additional Resources (See original fundraising page)

 [We also want to emphasize that we are targeting Teach for America as an organization and not the individuals who are corps members or alumni (after all, many of our supporters are TFA alumni who now disagree with the organization's role in education.)]

We won’t let our fellow students enter an organization without assuring they know what exactly they are getting into, and who and what they’re supporting. It is no doubt that we still have a lot of hard work left to do before our official launch. But, there is a lot at stake, a lot to keep on fighting for.


To get involved in this campaign and\or kept up to date, please fill out our following form here.

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Stephanie Rivera

Stephanie Rivera is a student at Rutgers University. She is a future teacher and educational equity activist. ...