Teach for America, the teacher pipeline founded by Highland Parker Wendy Kopp, is often tossed into the bucket with the rest of the tools in the reform movement's toolbox, from charter schools to performance-based pay and the like. For that, and for its place outside the labor movement, it's often maligned.
But it gets results -- if you consider immediate test score gains to be results -- and principals, at least in Dallas, are unabashed in their reliance on TFA "corps members."
Which is why, no doubt, one of Mike Miles' first hires as Dallas Independent School District's superintendent is a Teach for America veteran: Charles Glover, the bright, genial, Harvard-educated director of TFA's Dallas office. Glover, 29, will take over as DISD's first Chief Talent Officer, responsible for recruiting and developing teachers, principals and other district staff.
"I see this as a way to continue the work that we're doing," Glover told me this afternoon.
Glover's a College Station native and an A&M grad who found his way into education through TFA, working for the organization during college before landing a corps jobs in Durham, North Carolina, where he taught and coached football. He got a master's degree from Harvard and, three and a half years ago, opened the Dallas office of Teach for America.
Glover quickly grew Dallas' corps from 100 teachers in 2009 to 300, many of whom are and will continue to be employed by DISD. The district recently re-upped with the nonprofit for five years.
In his new gig, Glover says, he'll be responsible for attracting teachers, principals and other staff to the district -- a task that will obviously be made easier by his considerable contacts in the education field. Expect Teach for America's presence in DISD to grow -- in active corps members, and also in alumni. And expect some grumbling about that.
Glover will also help develop educators once they're here, and innovate ways to improve recruitment and training. He says he'll explore much-needed relationships with universities and other nonprofits -- and no, not just TFA.
"Teach for America is one pipeline that the district can leverage," he said. "It's not the only pipeline. It shouldn't be, and it can't be."