Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teach for America: The Money Just Keeps Rolling In

Teach for America and Walmart - it kind of says it all, no?

The Walton Foundation (the folks who brought us Walmart) just fattened TFA's coffers with a nearly $50M grant to "double the size of Teach for America's national teaching corps over the next three years."  What's hilarious is that TFA isn't building a teaching corps.  Here's what Wendy Kopp, the dark lord of TFA, had to say:

With this critical investment, Teach for America will be able to develop more of our talented recent college graduates and professionals to become longterm champions of educational equity and excellence," said Wendy Kopp, Teach for America's founder and CEO, in a statement. "The support and partnership is a vital part of Teach for America's effort to expand our network of corps members and alumni, who are dedicated to improving educational outcomes for children in our urban and rural communities."

Did she say anything about a teaching corps?  No, she didn't.  It's about expanding their "network of corps members and alumni."  

Where would the money go (not here, thank goodness):

Besides helping to expand the organization's operations, the other half of the new $49.5 million grant will go towards training and support for corps members in seven communities the foundation states are among its priority areas: Denver, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Newark, New Orleans, Washington, D.C. and the Delta region of Mississippi, where the Bentonville, Arkansas-based foundation is headquartered.

What is interesting is that those areas just happen to overlap with some of Walmart's expansion plans.  Oh. 

Just a side note on educational philanthropy:

In the world of education philanthropy, the donation solidifies Teach for America's standing as the recipient of the most grant money directed towards the improvement of teaching and learning, according to a report released earlier this month by a team of researchers from the University of Georgia and Kronley & Associates focused on foundation giving to education.

Between 2000 and 2008, researchers concluded that philanthropies donated $684 million specifically towards the improvement of teaching and learning. Of this money, 60 percent went towards 10 organizations. According to their analysis, Teach for America received the most, with more than $213 million in grant money.

The report also concluded that 10 foundations accounted for exactly half of all grants given. In the world of education philanthropy, three foundations topped the list: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation and the Broad Foundation.


Talk about your usual suspects.

Apparently some find this an odd pairing.

Jeffrey Henig, a professor of political science and education at Columbia University's Teachers College, sees a pattern of giving by the Walton Family Foundation. Its philanthropy, he says, while initially focused on hard-core conservative issues like vouchers and privatization has since expanded to include initiatives like charter schools. 

"While groups like Teach for America have done a good job of blurring partisan boundaries, I can't help but think of this alliance as a pairing of strange bedfellows," said Henig. "I keep waiting for what I expect are some serious disagreements on core principles to flare up and bring the implicit tension finally out into the open. But so far, it really hasn't happened yet."

For Diane Ravitch, a New York University education historian and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, the pairing raises more than a few alarm bells.

"The Walton Family Foundation is the most conservative-leaning in the education philanthropy business," she said. "Their giving is almost entirely to charters and vouchers. So now you have charters and vouchers and Teach for America -- or the mainstreaming of their right-wing agenda."

For Reckhow, the grant shows how well-legitimized an organization Teach for America has become, particularly among a certain sector of policymakers and education reformers. 

"Giving to Teach for America is now about as mainstream a thing as you can do," she said.

And that's just how TFA likes it.

In one other story, a reader here had alerted us that TFA has partnered with Apple so that people could donate their old iPad (is there such a thing at this point?) to TFA recruits to use in high-need schools.

Well guess what?  Hang onto those iPads because NO ONE is saying anything about how this works.  I called Apple and got quite a peppy PR person who told me absolutely nothing.  Didn't know when or how or why the program started.  Said to contact TFA (which I had already done).  Haven't heard back from TFA (and I don't expect to, either). 

Now if Apple wanted deserving schools to get used iPad, why channel it through TFA?  Why not dump the middleman and just donate in their neighborhood school districts? 

I'll lay odds there's a TFA Tribble up the food chain at Apple and "somehow" this all got done. 

But where will your iPad go? 

In a black hole because no one is explaining how it works or what happens when (not if) the TFA recruit moves on, nada. Have an old iPad you want in a high-need school?  Give it to the district's IT department or just give it to a teacher at one of those schools.  Skip Apple AND TFA.

13 comments:

StopTFA said...

Kopp needs the money to be flying around talking to bought and paid for media like the Seattle Times and kissing *ss at state houses nation-wide.

WV: She's having a "brall"

Amanda Fairbanks said...

Ya know, you really should have linked to the story you quoted.

seattle citizen said...

Wow. Scary.

Amanda, Melissa (and others) almost always link. But is it so hard to look up the Huffington Post article? Took me fifteen seconds. Copy lengthy passage into a search engine, and up it pops.

seattle citizen said...

Won't somebody stand up to this crap? We need to march on Olympia AND the UW AND SPS. They're all complicit.

StopTFA said...

When the top education cop is Randy "How'd that Gerbil get in there?" Dorn, whaddya expect?

Sorry, I'm hoping the majority of readers don't know WTH I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...

TFA seems a great fit for Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart need an uneducated population to fill the majority of their employment opportunities.

- Snark

turnitin said...

...but, teach, I almost always cite my sources, you know that. And it wasn't hard to find the source, all you had to do was google a phrase from my paper and there it was. That's not plagiarizing, sheesh, what's your problem?

none1111 said...

SC, Amanda wasn't trying to find the article, she's the author of the article! It was pretty clear to me that she was looking for an attribution, which is only reasonable.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wowzers... Read about recent court action that will likely impact the Seattle Schools handling of TfA teachers.

Renee-v-Duncan

The court held that:

The “precise question at issue” is the difference between the meaning of “has obtained” full State certification in the statute…and the meaning of “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward” full State certification in the [U.S. Department of Education] regulation…The difference between having obtained something and merely making satisfactory progress toward that thing is patent. We conclude that the Secretary’s regulation impermissibly expands the definition of “highly qualified teacher” … by including in that definition an alternative-route teacher who merely “demonstrates satisfactory progress toward” the requisite “full State certification.”

The effect of the decision is that intern teachers-in-training must be fairly spread across classrooms, and parents notified when their student has one of these teachers.

=====
So where does this put Dean Stritikus, Randy Dorn, the PESB, the Seattle School Board, and the Superintendent...... ???

It looks like they all are in favor of the option for poorly prepared teachers for low income schools..... Looks like principals of non-low income schools should be interviewing poorly prepared teachers for their schools as well. Isn't that correct Dr. Enfield?

==========
Here is an interesting Ed Week article ....By Candice Johnson

In What World Are Trainee Teachers 'Highly Qualified'? In Mine

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

From Ms. Johnson's article...
----
Some told me that this definition of “highly qualified” was necessary because there weren’t enough fully certified teachers who would take jobs at schools like mine. But I want to know why the federal government is more interested in hiding the fact that poorer schools are more likely to get poor-quality teachers.

Don’t tell me you’re giving me highly qualified teachers when you’re actually giving me teachers who have only just started their training and have never been in front of a group of students before.

And don’t pretend you’re giving me the same quality of teachers that kids down the road in Beverly Hills are getting.

If interns really are the best you can get to teach me, my elected representatives should own up to it—and make my school district and state own up to it, too. Parents, students, and the public deserve to know what’s really going on. Then we can start working together to bring fully prepared and effective teachers to my school.
----

--- So what is up with the Seattle School Board, the PESB, and Dr. Enfield?

#1 ... Get those TfA applicants headed into all schools not just low income schools.

#2 ... Notify students and parents that their child is being taught by a conditionally certified teacher that has had only 5 weeks of training to be a teacher.

===
The situations described by Ms. Johnson rarely existed in Seattle until the actions by the UW, the Board, and the Superintendent to bring in TfA for low income schools created the current coming mess.

-- Dan Dempsey

dan dempsey said...

Seems to me that with the big nursing shortage in America and an aging population...... Ms. Kopp will be opening up Nurse for America really soon.

NfA will only be allowed in low income areas I suppose and of course 5 weeks of training for a conditional certification will be plenty.

mirmac1 said...

After reading the article I had to laugh. Since when do you need to be college-ready to work for minimum wage at Walmart?