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A letter to the Seattle PTA President regarding Teach for America, Inc.

Dear Lauren,

I am a fellow SPS parent and I just read this in the Seattle Times:

Controversy about TFA may lag behind the times. Seattle PTSA Council President Lauren McGuire tells The Times that TFA is not a major issue for most parents.

Did you really say this? If so, how do you know whether Teach for America is or isn’t a significant issue for most parents? How many parents and guardians of the 48,000 or so families of SPS have you spoken to about the subject? How many families do you think are even aware of what TFA, Inc. is and that it has a presence in Seattle?

If you do not in fact know for certain how the majority of SPS families feel about this issue, then I ask that you stop making such erroneous public statements.

If all 48,000 SPS families were fully informed about TFA, do you still believe it wouldn’t matter to parents whether or not their kids were being taught by someone with only five weeks of training and only a two-year commitment to the field, instead of by a fully credentialed teacher with a year of student teaching experience and a long-term commitment to the profession?

As you may have surmised, it does matter to me as a parent whether my children are given TFA recruits for teachers. This is not idle hypothesizing on my part. In fact, one of my children’s principals attempted to hire a TFA recruit this year, who may well have been assigned to teach my child. I would not be okay with that. And I strongly suspect that it would matter to a lot more parents if they knew what TFA is and that they are being placed in SPS classrooms. But most SPS parents don’t know about this.

I recently wrote about that fact in the article The Letter the Seattle School District did not send to local parents about Teach for America (but should have).

So again I return to my initial question: How do you know that TFA is not a major issue for most parents’?

As the head of the Seattle PTA, you have a responsibility to accurately represent the views of all the parents of SPS. I do not believe you are doing so here.

I also believe that the PTA has been strangely silent about the introduction of TFA to SPS in general, and I’d like to know why. Not only are TFA recruits much less trained and experienced than fully credentialed teachers, which is potentially detrimental to our children, their introduction into the SPS teaching force at the same salary as fully credentialed teachers (plus their annual extra cost of $4,000 each to our cash-strapped district) sends the message to parents and teachers alike that professional training for teachers does not matter. Do you not realize how this affects the morale of fully trained teachers in SPS?

If you add to this the PTA leadership’s sudden support of charter schools this year — which Washington voters have rejected three times in the last 15 years, and against which a growing number of schools and district Democratic organizations have issued resolutions — it is clear that the PTA leadership is either woefully out of touch with the parents it is supposed to represent, or simply pursuing its own agenda in our name.

There is a “T” in PTA, and a “P,” and at the moment I believe the PTA leadership represents neither.


Sue Peters

Seattle public schools parent

Co-founding editor, Seattle Education Blog

Founding member, Parents Across America

3 comments on “A letter to the Seattle PTA President regarding Teach for America, Inc.

  1. seattleducation2011
    March 22, 2012

    Because of the corporate takeover of our “news” outlets that basically provide “disinfotainment”, there has been a proliferation of blogs and other sites that give the public an opportunity to read about the other side of the story.

    I say, that goodness for the internet.


  2. pica
    March 21, 2012

    In the United States, we used to have outstanding investigative journalism with pieces by which readers could see through major issues easily. I have no idea who owns these newspapers but it does seem apparent that there is usually a definitely “viewpoint” being presented and rarely if ever does an article show both sides of an issue. How pathetic is that? TFA is quite the outfit. Providing schools w/”teachers”. ..sort of. Having seen this first hand, I’m stunned that it is still present in our PSs. One should really question what is going on here and take an active part as a parent and/or citizen to lift the blanket off of this albatross that seems to be burying our schools w/low quality education for our students. Wake up Seattle, and smell the coffee…

  3. Danaher M Dempsey Jr
    March 21, 2012

    You will find if you investigate the actions taken in regard to getting TFA rolling in Seattle violations of WAC 181-79A-231 by players at many levels. The SPS directors as a group never stand up for the law. The law interferes with power politics. If you are wondering why it is likely four directors will continue a contract that took so much deception to put in place, consider what Melissa Westbrook wrote:
    Also, keep in mind that the ONLY alternative certification program for teaching at UW is ONLY for TFA students. Our largest state university has a program that only students vetted by a private group can get into. The UW program is running at a LOSS because so few TFA teachers were hired by Seattle or Federal Way.

    With all the cuts to higher education, it’s odd that UW would protect what is basically a private program.

    FYI, TFA has received about $55M over the last year or so from the feds. Your tax dollars at work for people the majority of whom won’t stay teachers.

    It would just be a big embarrassment for all the power players that hatched this illegal scheme in WA State, if it did not continue.

    If you look at Huntsville, Alabama, you can find the exact duplicate:
    Broad Foundation Superintendent (check MGJ started this action)
    Teachers being RIFed.
    Adequate supply of fully certificated teachers.
    TFA slammed in place.
    Big Money is the driver of this: Broad Foundation, Gates Foundation, Seattle Foundation, and $55 million from the FEDS nationally.

    This resembles a Pyramid Ponzie Scheme … it needs to keep growing to keep going. Instead of just serving rural or urban areas with teacher shortages, TFA has morphed into a replacement plan to displace fully certificated teachers. TFA is an unwanted and unneeded TEMP agency pushing its way into Seattle.

    The big plan was and is for lots and lots of TFA newbies in Seattle Schools. Just look at Huntsville for a guide to the next moves.

    Check out RocketCityMom for TFA info in Huntsville.

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This entry was posted on March 21, 2012 by in PTA, Seattle Pubic Schools, Teach for America and tagged , , , .
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