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No Teach for America in Renton

This is my take on the story.

I was involved with this because a friend of mine is a teacher in the Renton School District and I followed it from the time the teachers in Renton, Washington got word that the superintendent was to bring to the board a recommendation to hire Teach for America, Inc. (TFA, Inc.) recruits for the following school year.

The teachers received word the Friday before the school board meeting when this proposal would be presented by Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschet. There was no notice of this besides a quick e-mail to a few union representatives. The proposal would come up to the board and the board would vote on it in the next public meeting.

In the next four days the teachers got organized.

I attended the school board meeting that Wednesday and listened to one teacher after another speak eloquently in front of the school board about teaching as a profession. They described exactly how teachers are trained, what they learn, their passion and pride in their profession and how even considering the idea of hiring recruits with 5 weeks of training was a slap in the face to them as professionals. I was impressed.

One woman said that even her beautician received more training before she could cut hair than these TFA, Inc. recruits receive before going in front of a classroom full of impressionable minds.

At the end of the meeting, a parent spoke in front of the board. She said that she had brought her son to learn about what the school board does and had no intention in participating but she said that after she heard about what the board was considering, she got incensed. She said that she was going to tell as many parents as possible about TFA and what the superintendent was proposing to do. She basically said “No way!”

The response that this parent had is the same response that I hear all of the time from parents. They don’t want their children taught by fresh out of college recruits with five weeks of training no matter how enthusiastic they are. No way, no thanks.

The local newspaper reported that  the district decided not to bring the proposal to the board for a vote because of the number of qualified teachers who had applied to the open positions.

I think that the decision was based on the response that the district received from teachers and parents. At least this superintendent and board took heed.


2 comments on “No Teach for America in Renton

  1. doreenmcg
    June 8, 2012

    Good for Renton teachers, parents and students. Good job organizing. Love the hair dresser comparison.

  2. Jim Cap
    June 7, 2012

    Good news for Renton!

    As a parent, I’m happy that word is beginning to spread on this scam known as “Teach For America”.

    Look, some of these kids coming right out of college, join TFA for good, idealistic reasons. They see this as similar to spending a couple of years in the Peace Corps in a developing country. And then, after serving their country, and humanity—as they see it—they’ll move on to their “real career”, in something like law, finance, business, medicine, etc.

    Of course, there are some who do it because they need “some kind of job” and they’re “not yet sure about what to do with the rest of my life.” So this buys them time, and might also defer student loan payments for a bit. For these kids, it’s more pragmatic than noble.

    We can’t blame these 22 year olds for doing this. Rarely do they enter TFA with ill intent. On the contrary, all of the marketing materials for TFA make it look very noble and selfless. They feel good about themselves, like the soldier occupying a land across the globe, having been told he’s doing the right thing.

    The real miscreants are the people who started, fund and run TFA. They too, see this as analogous to a Peace Corps stint, and they regard these early TFA recruits as their “Test Market” to see if they can eventually expand this number x 1000 and begin to shift American education in a profound way.

    What the “Education Privatizers” see, down the road, are private, for-profit companies that call themselves “schools”, but will extract every available dollar so that it ultimately finds it way into the accounts of their investors and executives.

    Step One is to create public doubts about the value and effectiveness of our public schools.

    Step Two is to create distrust and doubt about our teachers. Use words like “incompetent”, “lazy” and, especially, “ineffective”, all in an attempt to make people believe that we’re in a crisis and the nation itself is at risk due to “bad teachers”.

    Step Three is to absolutely vilify our teacher unions. Spread hatred. Talk about their “corruption”. Spread vitriol. Describe unions as if they were criminal. Spread complete lies, if needed; It’s allowed, given the “absolute evil” of one of the last unions left standing. Convince people that our schools are “filled” with awful teachers and they it is “impossible” to fire them—all because of the union.

    Step Four is to slowly…gradually…slowly…without great fanfare…send in the first of the pawns…bide your time…be patient…and then send in more and more…wave after wave…

    The Final Goal: To expand TFA into virtually every school in the US. “Normalize” it, so that your child eventually gets used to most of her teachers being in their early to mid twenties. After a while, it will seem normal. But just let your kid know that in 9 cases out of ten, “Ms. Johnson” won’t be teaching 1st grade when she comes to visit as a 7th grader. They’ll be another 23 year old in that classroom as Ms. Johnson is now a “Web Marketing Specialist” for a corporation across town.

    After all, Ms. Johnson “did her time”; and she can righteously cite that 24 month experience during every dinner party and

    The 1% crowd that is desperate to gain control of our schools is determined to have at least half of our teachers in TFA within the next 20 years—or less, if the union-bashing offensive really works out.

    If they succeed, each teacher will cost about the same as a Peace Corps volunteer, making just enough money to survive, provided they live with their parents or share a dump with several other starving 20-somethings in a run-down, low-rent neighborhood.

    But think of the “savings” for society; all of which will go into the pockets of people who are already quite wealthy.

    It’s a deeply cynical, exploitive and horrific plan. But as the above demonstrates, only we parents can prevent it from happening.

    Politicians no longer respect teachers or regard them as any sort of threat. But they still quake at the sight of well-informed, determined, angry parents. Which is why I say we parents are “the last line of defense” against The Privatizers.

    It’s up to all of us to spread the word, call out the lies, and drive these people out of our schools. And we will. Keep the faith, people and keep doing the work.

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