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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A Buffet of Excellence

Michelle Rhee and company serve up heaping helpings of some familiar fare

By Sarah Lahm
Michelle Rhee and her cavalry of status quo blasters recently braved the frigid Minnesota winter to present a veritable buffet of warmed-over ideas for boosting our sad, slumping schools and closing our many cavern-sized gaps. From *grit* and *rigor* to healthy portions of data consumed throughout the day to helpful tips on avoiding the unpleasant taste of *corporate education reform,* it was familiar fare—and there was plenty of it. Here’s a taste.

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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

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

Silence of the Teachers

Why one young educator rejects Educators 4 Excellence’s corporate agenda and you should too.

By Sean Lords
Teacher-led organization? The voices of classroom teachers? On the surface, Educators 4 Excellence sounds like what education policy needs—the voices of experienced classroom teachers who have inspired students to live fulfilling lives. Nevertheless, a screen full of buzzwords only serves to obscure a tired truth—Educators 4 Excellence has little interest in the experience of dedicated classroom teachers. Instead, they are actively recruiting young educators to affirm the rhetoric that supports top-down educational reform. They certainly have no interest in my voice. Continue reading