Wednesday, April 22, 2009


The Teach for America Cult
As she [Wendy Kopp] continues to talk I realise that TFA is—in the best possible sense—a cult. It has its own language (“corps members”, “alums”), recruits are indoctrinated (“We tell them that it can be done, that we know of hundreds, thousands, of teachers attaining tremendous success”), go through an ordeal (“Everyone hits the wall in week three in the classroom”), emerge transformed by privileged knowledge (“Once you know what we know—that kids in poor urban areas can excel—you can accomplish different things”) and can never leave... (Education correspondent for The Economist)
Tom Friedman, McKinsey & TFA
Friedman has been wrong on so many issues. He is mighty lucky the NY Times doesn’t use a pay-for-performance model. Poor Tom would be eating at a food kitchen tonight. Big example: It was Friedman who was an early cheerleader for the war in Iraq. Today he claims he knows what to do about public schools: Get rid of them. He wants us to hand them over to the likes of Teach for America. He is wowed by the TFA model where urban schools are staffed by young kids for a couple of years before they move on to their real career. (Fred Klonsky's blog)
"Scared shitless"
Speaking to an affectionate crowd of Log Cabin Republicans on Saturday evening, Meghan McCain ridiculed the party her father headed this past election, declaring that "old school Republicans" were "scared shitless" of the changing landscape.... I think we're seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party (Sam Stein, Huffington)

1 comment:

  1. Having captured district leadership positions in several cities, and having created two charter school networks, Wendy Kopp's Teach For America friends are pursuing an approach to school reform based on the false premise that teachers are the cause of sub-par academic performance in urban schools, They not only discount major factors like the degree of parent commitment, family stability, student habits and economic inequality, they underestimate the power these obstacles exert in the daily experience of urban schools.

    D.C. Superintendent Michelle Rhee's school reform recipe includes three ingredients: close schools rather than improve them; fire teachers rather than inspire them; and sprinkle on a lot of media-thrilling hype. Appearing on the cover of Time, she sternly hovered over the camera holding a broom, which she was using to sweep trash, the trash being a metaphor for my urban teacher colleagues. MS RHEE, MY COLLEAGUES WHO WORK IN SOME OF THE TOUGHEST SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE NOT TRASH.

    TFA teachers are a welcome addition to our nation's public schools, and TFA and its offspring, the KIPP and YES charter schools, provide valuable services, but no data exists proving they are closing the achievement gap, or that they have a formula to close the gap, for the majority of low-income students. KIPP/YES teachers do great work, but they have students whose families apply to schools with longer school days, Saturday classes, an extra month of school in the Summer, and nightly loads of homework. Only a small minority of working-class families will allow schools to take over their kids' lives that much.

    The TFA coalition implies poor schools and bad teachers create the achievement gap. They want the community to give them power because only they can bring“reform” by eliminating job security and diminishing teacher influence over policy. This anti-teacher attitude derives from Ms. Kopp's original vision when she decided, from her Princeton perch and without a day in the classroom, that inexperience was better for teachers than experience. They are launching an Ivy League class war on veteran teachers from our nation's toughest schools.


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