Don’t Back Down

An Open Letter to TFA: Don’t Back Down in Newark

HoodieDear Teach for America:

As an alum of your program, I like to keep apprised of your goings-on. Though we may have our differences, I always try to appreciate your bolder efforts. So I’m thrilled to see you taking a valiant stand in Newark, where the district is preparing to can over a thousand teachers without regard to seniority and in contravention of state tenure law. Remaining in a district so openly hostile to career educators must require not just millions from the Walton Family Foundation, but the bold resolve of knowing you’re part of the civil rights struggle of our generation.  Continue reading

Internal Documents Reveal Charter Expansion, TFA Go Hand in Hand

Broad Foundation emails indicate charter operators reluctant to expand without TFA presence

By Chad Sommer and Jennifer Berkshire
Last weekend, former Newark Star columnist Bob Braun published a bombshell column, arguing that the state-appointed superintendent of Newark, NJ schools, Teach For America (TFA) alum Cami Anderson, wants to waive seniority rules to fire upwards of 700 tenured Newark teachers and replace a percentage of them with TFA recruits. Executive Director of Teach For America New Jersey, Fatimah Burnam Watkins, quickly dismissed Braun’s assertions as *conspiracy theories,* while claiming TFA has a small footprint in Newark.  But the heated back-and-forth misses the larger issue: TFA plays an increasingly essential role in staffing the charters that are rapidly expanding, replacing public schools from Newark to Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles. In fact, newly released documents indicate that many charter operators won’t even consider opening new schools without TFA to provide a supply of *teacher talent.*

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Top 10 Reasons to Join Teach For America

Did you miss the last application deadline for Teach for America? Fret not, young reader—you still have three more weeks before the next and final deadline to join the 2014 corps.

By Jay Saper, TFA reject

TFA reject Jay Saper with AFT president Randi Weingarten.

1. Teach for America saves taxpayers a fortune. Let’s face it: ending poverty in this country would cost a fortune. That’s why instead of focusing on what we don’t have—say, a place to sleep for all of our children—TFA aims its laser of excellence on what we have plenty of: lazy teachers who confess to only working half-time and should be displaced. Think about it. The federal government would have to spend untold billions to deal seriously with poverty and its ills. Instead, taxpayers are only on the hook for the hundreds of millions that TFA gets to remind us that poverty is merely an excuse. Continue reading

TFA: The International Brotherhood of Corporate Interests

How TFA rigs the teacher hiring process in favor of charter operators

Photo credit: Sarah Jane Rhee of www.loveandstrugglephotos.com

By Chad Sommer
When I joined Teach For America in the spring of 2011 I had no idea that my belief in social and economic justice was about to be cynically exploited by the corporate class. As a former development manager for a nonprofit that serves low-income Chicago public school students, TFA’s claims that its corps members and alumni are helping lead an educational revolution in low-income communities across the country spoke to me. Naively seduced by TFA’s do-gooder marketing pitch, I charged ahead on a mission to close the academic “achievement gapthat TFA blames on incompetent (read unionized) teachers. Continue reading

Give the Gift of Excellence

300 million ways to support Teach for America this holiday season

Happy holidays, reader! Tis the time of year when our thoughts turn to the neediest among us, those that require just a little extra giving this season. I give you: the Philadelphia Public Schools Teach for America. You see, it takes a lot of those special Christmas envelopes, each containing a crisp $10 bill, to add up to TFA’s now $306 million annual budget (roughly 30,600,000 envelopes by my calculations). Fortunately TFA has plenty of corporate elves working overtime to ensure that its stocking is filled with excellence this year. Let’s meet these little helpers, shall we? Continue reading