The Seattle School Board recently voted 5-1 to hire three more TFA, Inc. recruits. Four of these board members are incumbents in an upcoming school board race. These four board members also received funding from supporters of TFA, Inc. who poured money into the coffers of the Seattle Foundation to pay the additional expense of $4,000 per TFA, Inc. recruit per year to grace us with their presence in the Seattle Public School system. Conflict of interest? Borderline. Ethical? Probably not.

According to the Save Seattle Schools blog:

There were several donors to the Seattle Foundation TFA fund.  Three of them,  Matt Griffin, Evelyn Rozner and James Faulstich, have contributed heavily to all the incumbents’ campaigns.  (To point out, the average campaign contribution is usually between $25-100.)
Mr. Griffin gave Maier and Sundquist $1K each and Carr and Martin-Morris, $2k each.
Ms. Rozner gave Carr and Martin-Morris each $2k and Sundquist $1k.
Mr. Faulstich gave Carr, Martin-Morris and Sundquist each $250.
Peter Maier has the largest campaign fund at $37k, followed by Sundquist at $28k, Harium at $22k and Carr at $20k.
All of the challengers are well under $10K except for Michelle Buetow who is at $13k.
More than 50% of Sherry Carr’s campaign has come from 10 people/households including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and his wife.

That’s enough to give one pause.

One of the people who gave testimony the night of the school board’s vote asked the following questions which were never answered by the school board members who voted to allow TFA, Inc. recruits to teach our children even though these recruits had maybe five weeks of training and are not yet certified. (Was this the Theater of the Absurd? Absolutely!)

Dr. Carol Simmons sent each board member after the school board meeting the following questions which she had raised during her testimony. She has yet to receive a reply from Peter Maier, Steve Sundquist, Kay Smith-Blum, Harium Martin-Morris, Michael DeBell or Sherry Carr.

To follow are the five questions that Dr. Simmons posed to the directors in an e-mail dated 9/21/2011.

Seattle School Board Directors.

Would you please tell me why you have not responded to the questions I asked in my testimony of September 21, 2011

The questions are:

1.  Please clarify to the residents of Seattle why you think hiring TFA recruits to work with our low income and lower achieving student population will in any way result in closing the achievement/opportunity gap?

2.  What is your stated rationale for hiring TFA recruits?

3.  What research supports that hiring TFA recruits will achieve your stated goal of closing the achievement gap?

4.  How have you met the WAC criteria of carefully reviewing other options for closing the achievement gap before hiring these conditionally certificated recruits?

5. If you have reviewed other options for closing the achievement gap such as the Disproportionality Task Forces recommendations, why have you disregarded these options?

I would appreciate an immediate response.

Maybe someone can pose these questions to the incumbents in a candidate’s forum in the next few weeks.

By the way, the PTA, in Seattle and statewide, have remained strangely silent on the issue of Teach for America, Inc. Ramona Hattendorf, Government Relations Coordinator for the Washington State PTA, had stated that the PTA had decided not to take sides on this issue and yet they are proposing a plank to support charter schools in our state? Hmmm.


Post Script: While preparing another post I came across a list of Sherry Carr’s endorsements. The list includes Stand for Children and the League of Education Voters.

And many thanks to Jana Brubaker for providing the graphic for this post. She’s a terrific graphic artist and can be reached at: