Here’s a copy of my first resignation letter – that TFA then asked me to re-write:
“The following is my letter announcing my resignation from Teach For America, effective on Monday, November 15, 2010. It is a disappointment to me to be unable to finish my Corps commitment due to health reasons. However, I do not place the blame on myself. Rather, I look at TFA as being the guilty party. I was put in radically unfair and impossible situations numerous times with virtually no real support and my mental and physical health was significantly harmed as a result.
First off, it was a bad idea for TFA to place teachers at a brand new school that had no guarantee of enrollment numbers. Secondly, it was a worse idea to train someone to teach high school and then have them get hired by an elementary school. While I could make due with my minimal and incorrect training in a 5th grade class, I was completely unprepared for the 2nd grade class I was placed in. After the switch – when it was clear I was struggling – I still received virtually no on-going support or feedback on my teaching. This lack of support was characteristic of my entire experience with TFA.
After being let go from the Detroit Leadership Academy, I was told that I had no option of deferring for a year when the school had made it clear that they wanted me back the following year to teach 6th grade. This would have been a wonderful opportunity for me to continue successfully in the teaching profession; however, TFA was inflexible and instead sent me into a hellacious situation at a Detroit Public School – again with little support. To be placed in a class that had already ripped through four more experienced teachers during the year was a drastically unfair and impossible situation to place a first-year, untrained teacher in – especially when I only had several hours notice before entering the classroom. However, I got the vibe from TFA staff on several occasions that they were just waiting for me to quit once I was let go from the Detroit Leadership Academy so I would stop being an issue for them to deal with.
It has frustrated me immensely to leave everything and everyone I knew behind to come here to Detroit with TFA and then to receive virtually no adequate support once I arrived and to be thrown into unrealistic and impossible situations repeatedly, thereby ensuring my failure with the program. This experience has been six months of my life that were financially, emotionally and physically draining and that I will never get back.
As a result of the disgracefully unfair and ridiculous situations I have been placed in as a part of TFA – through no fault of my own I might add -, I would prefer not to have to pay back my TFA transitional funding and I also have no intention of paying for my first year of my University of Michigan certification process since I will not be taking any certification classes for the rest of this year and not receiving my certification. Furthermore, I would appreciate TFA paying me three months of salary equivalent to the average salary of teachers in Detroit while I transition to new jobs in the city that I am now stuck in.
Know that I will be a fiercely vocal opponent of Teach For America throughout the rest of my life as I remained involved in education. My experience with the program was frustrating and disheartening. As a first-year charter corps in a new region, we have been treated like guinea pigs. The results – corps members dropping out, being hospitalized, being forced to resign from schools or fired mid-year, ending up on anti-depressants, etc. is a noticeable problem and should be disturbing to the organization.