Lincoln Caplan provides us with some impressive new numbers in his recent Slate magazine article on Wendy Kopp's Teach For America: Almost $500 million raised, a goal of 4,000 new teachers per year by 2010, a 98 percent acceptance rate, annual revenues nearing $120 million (up from $10.5 million seven years ago). Caplan names TFA the country's largest reform effort in the K-12 education space.
To be sure, Caplan alludes to some of this. He refers to the TFA "fable." He points out that no one has yet written a major investigative take-down of the organization (someone has, actually, it just hasn't been published yet). He jokes that depending on who you talk to, TFA is either Google -- or Enron. But Caplan's main focus is how TFA is shaping up to be a powerful and self-sustaining nonprofit institution. Mine is whether TFA is -- or will anytime soon be -- shaping up to have anywhere near as big an impact on public education as its accolades (and revenues) suggest.