After the Board decided SPS just HAD to give TFA the ability to come into the district, I realized they had not announced a higher ed sponsor (which they needed). In January, I contacted the College of Education at UW whose dean, Tom Stritikus, is the first TFA alum to head a college of education. There was an exchange of e-mails and a date and time set up for a meeting complete with a faculty member (his call). But it never happened as his aide called and said there was a family issue and he couldn't make it.
That's fine so I politely waited two months. I called again and this time his aide was out on jury duty and no one else could make the appointment (really). But, I never heard from the aide again.
I contacted UW's Communications who really couldn't say much about it but that I should talk to the communications person in the College (who I didn't know existed). I was somewhat irritated by then so I contacted the Vice-Provost whose office "lost" my e-mail so I re-sent it. Seeing a pattern?
By this time, I knew they didn't want to talk with me (and keep in mind I was just going to ask them about sponsoring TFA and nothing else). I did finally talk with the Communications person in the College who was very nice but she knew nothing. She later called me and said I could write down my questions and she would sent them to the Dean and he would give the answers to her and she, in turn, give them to me. No thanks.
By then I knew something was up and had filed a Public Disclosure request for all e-mails and documents between TFA and the Dean. (Co-incidentally, another active parent had done the same thing.) It took awhile but I've now been through two batches of about 900 items each. (Most of it is TFA training manuals and a University partnership manual and their curriculum. One hilarious item was the "Aurora Lora" story, told in breathless "dear diary" prose.)
As you may recall, UW announced, just weeks ago, that they had finalized a deal with TFA for their recruits to get their teaching certificates through a new alternative certification program at UW. I realize now that they didn't want to talk with me because, well, I might have found out earlier about this deal. You see, they were keeping it on the downlow, even from their own students, who asked for a meeting to demand an explanation. Naturally, the students are none too happy.
So what have I found out from these e-mails I read so far?
- The day before his appointment was even announced (August 18th), he contacted Wendy Kopp, the head of TFA. He asks her if she wants to build an on-line endorsement program for TFA with UW and to do press for him. She replies, “As you say, this is a terrific moment in the history of TFA and hopefully is a just a harbinger of all that’s to come in terms of the influence of alumni on teacher education.”
- Further on in the e-mail, she says, “Let’s absolutely see what we can cook up in terms of ways of working together…”
- Just one week later, he is tries to get together with TFA staff in Washington, D.C. He says, “I would love to be able to get a set of possible ideas for collaboration on the table and identify priorities.”
- Also that week, he says, “I offered to help Janis in anyway she needed.” Janis is Janis Ortega, the TFA director for Puget Sound.
- In an e-mail on Sep 13, 2010, again just weeks after he became Dean, Stritikus writes to a TFA official and says, “By that time (9/29-10/1), I will have talked to key faculty, developed a sketch plan for the master’s degree, and gotten a handle on the certification issues.
- Again that week he says, “I am open to pursuing other ideas that would be helpful to TFA.”
- In the TFA University Partnership document on page 16, it states: “Corps members should have frequent opportunities for active engagement in the learning process, including direct support from faculty and feedback on their instructional practice.” Where effect will that have on regular UW students in the College in terms of help?
- On page 19 of the TFA University Partnership document, they talk about what the partnership would give TFA members: “reduction of tuition costs for corps members using scholarships, negotiated rates, or district funding.” Later on they mention, “deferred billing.” Again, where does that leave UW students? Will they have access to all of these items?
Stritikus was a man with his pants on fire. He could not wait to get TFA into UW. And, TFA couldn't wait to get there with several e-mails showing a TFA staffer e-mailing various training manual every two hours...on Christmas Eve.
My belief, from the e-mails, is that Stritikus wants to expand the program so that UW becomes the go-to place for TFA recruits to get their teaching certificate (on-line). There are other alternative certification routes in Washington State. So why is UW jumping thru all these hoops for 25-50 students?
Part Two? That's yesterday's meeting between angry/betrayed UW College of Ed students and the Dean. Here's a taste from a story from KING-5 news. Listen carefully to what the Dean says - he a bullshit artist of the highest ability. (And yes, that was an absolute choice on my part to use that word because there is no other way to describe him.)