Like Wall Street recruiters, TFA recruiters are “really in your face, and they make it very easy.” Like Wall Street recruiters, too, they soothe the anxieties of liberal-arts majors with one hand by promising that no prior substantive experience is necessary, while with the other hand they feed Ivy elitism by promising recruits they are uniquely qualified liberal-arts students. And both emphasize the skills recruits will learn for the rest of their careers — the ability to navigate the system — at least as much as what they’re actually going to do for two years, and whom it will affect.
The similarities between the ways elite college students are sold on managing America’s money and how they’re sold on managing its children tend to be pretty well accepted among people who’ve seen the recruitment processes in person. But it’s not the sort of thing most people outside elite colleges think about. I don’t think that public-school reformists will begin to fetishize complexity just because Wall Street financiers do, but I think it might be wise to think about the other problems that might develop from a recruitment process that tells the “best and brightest” that that’s all they need to be.