(Please note, this is not my thread on my TFA research.)
So I'm a little behind so a reader sent me a let he sent to the Board. This letter is about the fact that Teach for America has yet again been put on the Board Agenda for the Board meeting on Wednesday. I went and checked out the agenda (there are several interesting items including public notice of a parent who appealing the use of a specific textbook) and there it was. And, if you read the so-called action report, well, TFA is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Are they kidding me?
So what was my central question before? What is the problem they are trying to solve? Is there a shortage of teachers? No. From the item:
We believe that the larger our candidate pool, the more likely that we will hire the best teachers for our classrooms.
OHHHH. That's the problem, not a big enough candidate pool.
TFA’s mission is to help eliminate educational inequity by enlisting the nation’s most promising future leaders in the effort.
So is by bringing TFA to SPS, the district is admitting to educational inequity because they haven't put the best teachers we have in struggling schools?
TFA, through its vetting process, has found that most promising future leaders.
That's a pretty big full-of-ourselves statement. Here's another one:
Our region is a finalist for the organization’s new site selection process.
Wheee! We are so lucky!
What is needed to bring them here?
To expand into the Puget Sound Region TFA requires district partners, funding, and university partners.
Well, we know who the district is. Funding? Well now, that's an interesting thing because the Superintendent told me, in front of other parents at the NE coffee chat that the district DID have the money. But wait for it.
TFA requires a monetary fee for each TFA corps member who is hired by the district; should SPS hire any TFA corps members, the district will seek private funding for any district-required fee.
Will seek? She said that the district HAD the money. And whether they have it now or not, we do not have the time for any new project or program that doesn't have a dedicated funding stream.
And university partner? Well, that's a mystery in this situation but I'd lay odds they don't HAVE one yet.
Now interestingly (but no big surprise), TFA teachers would only apply to the low-performing schools. No TFA at Roosevelt or JSIS or Lafayette. They would be hired during Phase III (Phase I is internal and for teachers who want to change buildings; Phase II is for displaced teachers who couldn't find a school under Phase I)
What probably comes in second for making me angry is the so-called research and data sources. It's thin and cherry-picked. Let's just start with the first sentence:
TFA corps members have made a positive impact on schools, as reported by 94 percent of principals in schools across the nation that have hired corps members.
Does that say they are effective teachers? No.
The item goes through the "qualifications" for the TFA teachers but glosses over the amount of training time, calling it "summer" when it is 5 weeks.
They also claim community engagement through the following groups:
They have engaged with Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, League of Women Voters, Stand for Children, the Washington Policy Center, Partnership for Learning, the Technology Alliance, and the STEM Center.
Where are the real school communities in that group? The Washington Policy Center is a conservative think-tank. Why the hell does the district feel the need to connect with them before parents?
They do mention "connecting" with the PTSA and Seattle Education Association. (I think the SEA would have something to say about that.) But hello? If these are teachers in our classrooms, why hasn't the Seattle Council PTSA done outreach? Does every single PTA/PTSA in our district know about this? Has the word gone out to parents? Will TFA teachers be identified to parents? (If this goes through, I'll do my best to make sure every parent of a TFA teacher knows because I'm sure the PTSA and the district won't tell people.)
What is the rush? Seriously folks, this is the one of THE most important things for the Superintendent and the Board and the staff to be working on? I'm ashamed of all of them. This is nothing but BS ed reform nonsense. If you need a reason to vote NO on the levy, this should be it. A district in crisis doesn't focus on a non-problem like this.
Now sadly, I won't be able to attend the Board meeting but that doesn't mean there's nothing that can be done. And, if it matters to you, get up and do something.
Finally, this signals the end-of-the year stampede that happens EVERY year with the district. They get all their pet projects in a row and rush them through, knowing that you will be distracted by the holidays.
Don't turn away or get distracted.