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The truth behind Teach for America’s political empire

Teach for America, well known for recruiting high-achieving college graduates to teach in urban and rural areas for two years, has expanded to 48 regions, built an alumni base of 32,000 and piled up $350 million in assets.

Now, as the school year begins, it's planting seeds to grow further -- but not without controversy and intrigue.

Though the plans are still in the works, TFA is approaching an agreement with the University of Minnesota in which the university's College of Education and Human Development would offer TFA teachers special coursework during their time in the program. For TFA, the partnership would provide an extra source of support beyond its standard five-week summer prep. For the college, it's an opportunity to enroll scores of new students.

For everyone else, it's a lightning rod.

In June, more than 300 students, faculty and teachers signed a letter arguing that the partnership would weaken the integrity of the college's teacher preparation and exacerbate racial inequity in the region. “We believe that this partnership offers unearned legitimacy to a significantly flawed and powerful force in education,” they wrote, “one which sends underprepared teachers into communities of students already often marginalized by the education system.” Soon after, 30 of 36 faculty from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the school's main source of teacher training, voted to oppose the partnership.

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