One of our very own teachers in Seattle, Marianne Bratsanos, brought forth an item regarding the hiring of Teach for America, Inc. recruits which was approved by the delegates at the National Education Association (NEA) Convention in Chicago last week.
Here in Seattle 70 teachers received pink slips this spring in response to budget cuts. In the meantime, Tom Stritikus, a former TFA, Inc. recruit and now Dean of the School of Education at the University of Washington, is gearing up to crank out Teach for America recruits to plug into a school district that is not lacking in qualified teachers. The unholy agreement between our former Broad-trained superintendent, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson, with the Seattle school board’s blessings, and Teach for America is to hire 25 recruits this fall at the additional expense of $4,000 per year. This additional fee goes directly to TFA, Inc.
Does this make any kind of economic sense? Does this at all address the best interests and needs of our students?
The teachers who comprise the membership of the NEA don’t think so along with the majority of parents who I have communicated with about this issue.
Will our interim superintendent, Dr. Susan Enfield, continue the charge towards dumbing down our children’s education? The jury is still out on that. Unfortunately she took the initiative under our former superintendent’s guidance to push TFA, Inc. through rather hastily with the cooperation of the former school board president Michael DeBell. “Community Engagement” meant Ms. Ortega, the representative for TFA Inc., meeting with the Gates’ backed organizations such as the Alliance for Education, the League of Education Voters (LEV), Stand for Children and the like. It also meant going to Rainier Beach High School and having Ms. Ortega get on the stage and extol the virtues of their recruits in a PTA meeting. Rainier Beach High School, watching how this goes nationally, would be a target school simply because of its’ large minority population.
The worst of it was that a false deadline had been brought to bear on our district. TFA, Inc. stated that they had to have an answer by a certain date, less than a month at the time, to determine whether they could open an office in our state this year. As far as I could see, this was a well-coordinated effort on the part of our former supe, TFA, Inc and the school board President Micheal DeBell to push TFA, Inc. through quickly and quietly. It did pass through quickly but not so quietly. “Community Engagement” was distilled down to one school board meeting where Ms. Ortega with TFA, Inc. stood in front of the school board on one side and the President and Vice President of SEA, stood on the other side and the school board posed questions mostly to Ms. Ortega. Both the President and Vice-President of SEA shared their frustration during the meeting with the school board members that there were few if any questions being directed towards them. All of the softball questions were directed to Ms. Ortega. The fix was in and all but Betty Patu voted for TFA, Inc. coming to Seattle.
Shortly after this approval by our school board, Bill Gates provided TFA, Inc. with $1M to open an office in the Puget Sound area.
Fortunately, the teachers of Seattle and around the country are now speaking up about TFA, Inc.
Below is an excerpt from an article in Education Week, NEA Delegates Take Swipe at Teach for America.
In the union’s strongest stance yet against the popular Teach For America alternative-certification program, National Education Association delegates approved an item that accuses TFA of taking jobs from other teachers in locales where positions are scarce.
Until now, the NEA had no formal position on the organization, though many of the union’s internal resolutions stood in contrast with such TFA practices as its short formal training program. There has long been friction between the two groups, though.
The item calls on the NEA to “publicly oppose” contracts with TFA when they are used in districts with no teacher shortages, or to save money on salaries.
Even before this item got to the floor, its drafters added stronger language, saying that some TFA contracts could be used to “bust unions.”
The sponsor, Marianne Bratsanos of Washington State, praised the program for filling hard-to-staff positions but said it has gone too far by placing recruits in districts with no teacher shortages. (She was probably referring to headlines earlier this year out of Kansas City, Mo., where the district was laying off some educators while bringing on others trained by TFA.)
“While this may temporarily suffice when you cannot fill a teaching position, it is not OK where hundreds of experienced teachers have been pink-slipped and are clamoring for limited positions,” she said.
She added that the program hurts local colleges of education. And finally, she said “antiunion foundations and corporations substantially fund TFA,” naming the Walton, Broad, and Gates foundations. “These corporations work to silence union voices,” she said. (The Broad and Gates foundations are past providers of grant support to Education Week ‘s nonprofit parent corporation.)