Teach for America, Inc. is in Seattle

Our Broad-trained superintendent has spoken. There will be TFA, Inc. recruits in Seattle.

But the battle for Seattle is not over.

Why was it so important to bring TFA, Inc. to our state? Because there are well paid lobbyists and Broad/Gates backed organizations along with DFER, who just set up shop in our state, who are already lobbying for charter schools. Charter schools are populated with TFA, Inc. recruits. These TFA, Inc. folks, fresh out of college can be trained to feed the students pre-packaged curriculum that can be regurgitated back out on a standardized test. Low pay, long hours, no union to bother with and no questions asked. If you don’t know anything about the art of teaching, then you will have no idea that there is another way to educate a child and therefore you will not question the process.

The Seattle school board last night rubber-stamped the supe’s recommendation zombie style, 6-1. The irony of this is that the Board Director who voted against it was representing the schools who would receive the majority of TFA, Inc. recruits.

Parents, students and teachers spoke quite eloquently and in unison against having TFA, Inc. recruits in their schools. On the other side, the only folks who spoke up for TFA, Inc. were TFA, Inc. alumnae, go figure, who thought that doing their two year stint with TFA, Inc. was the best experience that they had ever had. No mention was made about how the students might have felt about it or the experienced teachers who worked alongside them and who had to spend their valuable time bringing these recruits along.

So what is our next step? Seattle Education 2010, in partnership with Parents Across America, Seattle will be working with other concerned individuals and organizations on three actions.

The first action is that we will start a school board watch on this website tracking each school board director, noting their votes, their official comments on school issues and tracking their funding in terms of who paid for them to have a seat at the table and who will be funding them during their bid for re-election. Sue and I would appreciate any observations that you might have regarding any school board members. We do receive a lot of information daily from folks about all issues related to education and truly appreciate the input. The more informed we are as community members, the better decisions we will make.

Our second action is that we will be recruiting school board candidates and supporting them during their bid for election.

We are communicating with community members now and meeting with potential candidates. If you know of someone who has developed critical thinking skills and can look beyond their next step up the political ladder, please let us know.

And finally, we will be pursuing legal recourse on the decision to bring TFA, Inc. to Seattle. Details on that will follow as we go through the process.

The Broad and Gates backed organizations like to remain secretive about what they are doing. We believe this is because if folks knew what their agenda was, there would push back big time. In reaction to this underhandedness and lack of transparency that these organizations have exhibited, we have decided to be transparent on what we are doing and why. We want true grassroots involvement and to achieve that, an organization needs to be up front and honest. That is my belief.

So that’s where we are.

Oh yeah, and speaking of transparency, three guesses on who the “mystery donor” is who will be paying for TFA, Inc. for the next three years.


3 thoughts on “Teach for America, Inc. is in Seattle

  1. I fought (unsuccessfully, to a degree) against TFA in our schools starting back in spring of 2008. TFA conned our state legislature into changing licensing requirements for teachers so that districts and charter schools could contract with TFA for corps members. My district is the only one out of nineteen districts in the state (remember it’s Delaware–we only have three counties) to sign a contract for three years. To this day, when we talk about TFA, key legislators tell me, “I had no idea that you had to pay extra for them. They didn’t tell us that.” I have lots of TFA-related material that I will e-mail to you this weekend. We have been promised that there will be no more TFA added to our schools after the three years is up. This reminds me–I need to double-check that with the superintendent and school board.

    Here is my first speech to our school board. They were never asked to consider TFA–the former super signed the contract without board approval. Supposedly it would have cost us around $20,000 to break the contract, so we did not pursue that.

    Speech from April 2008 School Board Meeting
    The recent news about the introduction of the Teach for America program into Delaware schools has been both alarming and disappointing.

    Teachers are opposed to this program for a number of reasons which include:
    >Most TFA participants are non-certificated—most do not hold teaching degrees. As professionals, we expect our classrooms to be served by trained, licensed, and certificated teachers.
    >There is no apparent pressing need for TFA in our schools—teaching positions in our city schools have been filled in past years. I checked—only one vacancy exists right now in the entire district.
    > There is research from Linda Darling-Hammond, a Stanford professor and authority on school reform, educational equity and teacher quality, that shows that having non-certificated people, like TFA participants, in classrooms, can limit achievement and student performance on standardized tests.
    > Teachers were never consulted in this development. A recent News Journal article says “the state’s leading education reformers are hailing the idea.” Now, who would that be? I suspect that this refers to the Rodel Foundation and business leaders from Vision 2015. Teachers have been working hard to reform education for years. However, teachers rarely get any credit as the reformers they are, and they are certainly not hailing the arrival of TFA.
    > TFA representatives suggest that this will not cause any teachers to lose their jobs. This is absurd. Twenty real teachers in Delaware will not hold or get the jobs that TFA people would get. In the next few weeks Red Clay will be announcing teacher lay-offs from the current ranks of certificated, licensed teachers currently under contract and working in our schools. Additionally, Red Clay has over fifty teachers employed this year under temporary contracts. These people will be let go at the end of this school year. If TFA comes to Red Clay, there may be at least six current employees who will not get their jobs back—teachers who are already on the job, with satisfactory evaluations, known to our students and parents, and recognized and valued by our principals. Six teaching positions are already on hold for TFS corps members. What is wrong with this picture?

    TFA may be useful and necessary in some parts of the country. I know several people who have been struggling as TFA participants in hard-to-staff Philadelphia public schools–in positions where no other teachers were available. I do not believe that this is the case in the state of Delaware—and certainly not in Red Clay schools.
    I do not understand the appeal of TFA. TFA will not save money. TFA participants get a teacher’s salary, benefits, plus a stipend. They can join the teachers’ union, so it is not as if we will miss out on some union organizing opportunity—this is not sour grapes. State Senator David Sokola, who enthusiastically champions TFA, has said that he is “glad that now there will be some people in our schools who believe that all children can learn.” What an outrageous statement! If this is the kind of motivation that is driving the introduction of TFA into Delaware public education, then someone else needs to step in and take control of the wheel. I and the over 1000 members of the Red Clay Eduaction Association believe that all students can learn, and we work hard each day to try to make this happen.
    Frederika Jenner
    President, Red Clay Education Association

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