Friday, March 09, 2012

Rosenthal Drinks the Times' Kool-Aid in TFA Story

Well, that didn't take long.  In today's Times, there is a story by Rosenthal about TFA that has the unmistakable stamp of the Times and their support of ed reform. 

Much was left out.  There's a lot that he could have fleshed out by asking parents or teachers or yes, even bloggers.  He did not print any reactions/comments even if had them. 

He has a whole "activists' reaction and yet does not quote one single activist.  In fact the ONLY non-TFA supporter he does quote is Betty Patu.  The only parent he quotes is Lauren McGuire.

This article does nothing but support TFA.  

They have a "facts" area about TFA but leave out the crucial detail that districts have to pay EXTRA to have TFA teachers.   I'm pretty sure that most voters (and taxpayers) would have been interested in that detail.  He also does not mention how the Puget Sound region has hundreds of unemployed, full-qualified teachers. 

From the article:

Earlier this week, three Seattle School Board members introduced a motion to sever the district's fledgling partnership with TFA. And while the move is almost certain to fail due to swing vote Kay Smith-Blum and three other members, it illustrates how tumultuous the year has been for TFA, a group that is accustomed to opposition but has never before seen as much of it as in Seattle.

The blowback has come from traditionalists, teachers unions and their supporters, who worry about the inexperienced recruits taking positions from longtime educators.

Are we supposed to feel for TFA because they have been challenged? 

And what are "traditionalists"?  You mean parents?  And those named in that paragraph are the only people who oppose TFA?  It is not and Brian knows it. 

Here's an interesting statement and one that doesn't surprise me at all:


Principals who supervise the Seattle TFA teachers declined to let reporters visit those classrooms or even talk to the teachers, citing their need to focus on teaching.

Yes, and I warned Brian that he won't be able to talk to any TFA teacher without a TFA handler.  They just won't let it happen.  You have to wonder why they need to control the message and the visuals so much. 

TFA supporters say young people like Keller are great assets for diverse schools but would otherwise not end up in the classroom because of their inability or unwillingness to go through an expensive, multiyear teacher-certification process.

Unwillingness?  You mean because they don't intend to stay teachers so why bother with a long (and important) training?

There a line in there about requesting public disclosure documents.  Lisa MacFarlene of DFER, who spoke at the Board meeting in favor of TFA, said that people who were doing that were wasting the district's time. 

Really?  So there was nothing disturbing or troubling in all those TFA e-mails?  We have public disclosure laws precisely to make sure that the public can make sure that our tax dollars are being used wisely and with professionalism by public employees.  Between myself and Chris Jackins, we have found many issues via public disclosure that otherwise would not have been found out. 

Then we come to a rather disturbing piece of the article.  It claims a burglary may have occurred because an address was in a public disclosure document.  This is the first I have heard of this and this is key because of what came before.

SEA's Jonathan Knapp came to me, months ago, asking that a comment that contained a link to a public disclosure document with personal information about one TFA person be taken out. 

My first reaction was, why isn't the teacher calling me?  Isn't this person an adult?  He demurred.  I told him I knew that the links were from public disclosure documents (meaning the public agency said they were okay to release) and I had not checked all of them.  (That there is a state that doesn't redact its documents for personal information is worrisome.)  Because there are hundreds of comments, I asked him to tell me which thread and which comment.

He never got back to me.  I also never heard from anyone at TFA, not the teacher or nor anyone in leadership.

Then, at the Board meeting Wednesday, the head of TFA in our region, got up and spoke for TFA and mentioned this issue (but not the burglary).  I immediately fired off an e-mail and told her the story.  I again said, if anyone wants it deleted, please tell me the thread and the comment and I would.  Again, no answer.

If TFA had connected a comment with a link here with a burglary, you'd think we would have heard about it at the time.  And yet this is the first I hear of it.  Odd.

TFA says they are finalizing partnerships with other districts here.  I'm glad other districts have the money for TFA teachers; it must mean that the cuts to the state education budget aren't that bad. 

Very disappointing but not surprising. 

56 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Not A Fan" says:

Yes the story marginalizes those against TFA here. Anti-TFA is not "fringe." Want proof? Seattle University, which many in town feel has a much stronger College of Ed than UW, categorically refused to work w/ TFA.

SU does more thoughtful work on teacher evals, minority recruitment and education of the whole child than UW. And SU has no time for TFA.

Dean Stritikus at UW can keep plowing forward, but there are many in the city who are at odds with his TFA-alum agenda and his ill-thought-out TFA program.

Anonymous said...

Melissa: While I was a bit annoyed by some parts of Rosenthal's article, and agree it was slanted a bit, it didn't strike me as completely one-sided, like LV's opinion pieces. It could have been a lot worse.

Now is the opportunity to invite Rosenthal to a meeting of the anti-TFA forces, to better enlighten him and give him their side of the story, instead of him relying on hearsay from pro-TFA folks and blog rants.

While the Times is the establishment, and Rosenthal works for them, I've found his work, thus far, to be a big improvement over others from the Times.

For the larger audiences who don't read this blog, Rosenthal, for all intents and purposes, is all we've got right now, and to me, he ain't that bad. I wouldn't insult him as a Kool-Aid drinker yet. Not until the anti-TFA folks have reached out to him, expressed their concerns, invited him to one of their meetings, and articulated their concerns.

That he overlooked your work or the deeper concerns of anti-TFA folks shouldn't discourage you or others from making efforts to get the other side of the story out. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

"Lauren McGuire, president of the city's PTSA council, said it has not been a major issue for most parents."

Really? How would Lauren know this? Did she take a poll? The woman doesn't do anything but sit in meetings at downtown HQ and most certainly does not represent my area. Never seen her face.

And frankly, her PTSA "stewardship" has been a a huge disappointment. From issuing personal endorsements in last fall's school board races (an unprecedented move not maintaining neutrality in Board politics) to helping Charter schools along at the state level, McGuire apparently is more interested in getting her name out with the Reform Crowd than representing underserved parents of her own organization.

In summary, please find another source, Rosenthal. McGuire does not speak for parents in this city. Just her narrow subsection of entitled NE Caucasian families. Ditto for PTSA as an organization. It doesn't do a thing for my community.

Southie

Anonymous said...

I'll repost my thoughts here. Being a victim of a crime is ugly and frightening experience and leaves an indelible memory. We've been there. My husband was robbed at gunpoint and thank god, all he lost was his wallet, a bit of cash, and some time getting all the IDs and bank card stuff replaced.
However, unless someone posted an adress and say - come rob me, I don't see a connection. I don't think it's cool to post addresses publicly for any reasons except in phone books and governmental purposes.

None of this changes my belief that Seattle does not need 5 week trained TFAs, Not when we have a large qualified, trained, experienced teaching pool. I salute the youngsters who want to do this, but please go through a teaching program and apply just like all the other teaching applicants. Short cuts are there, but you will gain more respect and yes, real learning by going through the same doors others must do. If there are short comings in teacher college, then let's change that.

So let's debate TFA on its merits. I do feel for Rosenthal 'cause he wants to keep his job. We are not his employer. The Seattle Times is and is quite clear where it stands as a newspaper. I think Mr. Rosenthal's piece would have been a better read as an op-ed piece.

I hope Seattle Times will do a real story on crime and violence in South Seattle. I hope Seattle Times will write an op-ed piece pushing for the opening of Rainier Beach community center and pool. I hope Seattle Times will support fundings of neighborhoods programs that will provide safe haven for our kids to be and meet in. I hope Seattle Times will push for economic investment and job opportunities in S. Seattle. These things matter to the kids and our community. Kids and their families need safe environment to learn and live in.

de ja vu

StopTFA said...

Rosenthal has been singularly disinterested in finding out the many corrupt and twisted machinations by state and district employees to move TFA inc. forward. He is more interested in checking his smartphone for twits I mean tweets.

StopTFA said...

Seriously, an expose of the Hanuaer/UW/PESB/Alliance/Enfield lovefest with TFA is Pulitzer Prize material for any true journalist who cares to look at it.

email me at stoptfaseattle@gmail.com

Melissa Westbrook said...

SU has a GREAT program and yes, was not interested in TFA. I agree with you, Not a Fan.

Brian knows exactly who to talk to and what to ask. He doesn't need to be invited to a meeting. He just chose to not ask the questions he should have (or he asked them and then didn't include them in the story).

Deja Vu, you have it right.

Anonymous said...

I just watched Wednesday's public testimony. Lisa MacFarlane, former head of LEV and now head of pro-charter-PAC Democrats for Education Reform, got up to speak on TFA. Her big argument for keeping TFA was that we'd hurt people's feelings if we don't, and that it wouldn't look good for Seattle to reject a national organization.

OMG, this is everything I think is wrong about Ed Reform in Seattle. This is not a high school popularity contest in which we need to jockey to be seen with the Cool Kids from NYC and the Feds.

I personally rue the day that TFA set its sights on the NW. 80 percent trouble for 20 percent benefit. The organization was good in its early days now it's a self-serving, self-spawning, money-sucking self-congratulating marketing machine. And not much more than that, IMHO.

Savvy Voter

Anonymous said...

Additional thoughts: I am not criticizing the majority of kids in TFA. I am criticizing the organization itself and the shallowness of MacFarlane and her ilk's arguments.

Although I would not have phrased it the way Southie did, I also agree that Lauren McGuire's comment was inappropriate, possibly untrue, and that PTSA should stay out of TFA, period. Whether intentional or unintentional, the organization this year has been weakened by ill-thought-out forays into Ed Reform.

-Savvy Voter-

TraceyS said...

I mentioned this on another thread, but I'll repeat it here - burglars are just not smart enough to go trolling through blogs to look for addresses. The furthest most of them go is to stake out a neighborhood before hitting it.

We've been burgled several times, and have even had the precinct crime prevention coordinator at our house for a neighborhood meeting to discuss how to reduce our exposure. Most burglaries are opportunistic based on features of the property, or a neighborhood is staked out in advance and several houses hit at once.

I really feel for the person who was stolen from, having been a crime victim several times as well. And I deplore that their, or anyone's, address was published in a blog. But burglaries have been up over the entire city for a couple of years now for everyone, and it is highly unlikely that the two things are related. Correlation does not imply causation.

StopTFA said...

Yes, but correlation buys sympathy for the victim and antipathy for the "traditionalists", and bloggers/criminals.

You'll see from the testimony that the pro-TFA speakers just weren't strutting so proud like last year; how awesome and super-amazing the org and its corp members are. Now it was all crocodile tears about how unfair and untrue these mean bloggers are. How sunshine laws really shouldn't be used to reveal the things they claim are unfair or untrue. One staffer even chided Melissa for quoting him exactly from an LA Time interview. "How would my family feel, watching this". On the Seattle Channel?! Dude, it's on the Googles, it was in the LA Times for criminy's sake!

Anonymous said...

From Rosenthal's article: "TFA leaders say they are preparing to expand to three more area districts next year."

Would Highline be one of those?

Anonymous said...

Well - remember, like many reporters - Brian is at the mercy of his editors - it's entirely possible that his original piece was more balanced, and got altered in the editing. He wouldn't be the first reporter to have that happen - and as someone else pointed out, he needs to keep his job. I'd imagine it's a bit of a tightrope dance with bosses like the Times watching over his shoulder. Not an excuse - just reality.


a reader

Anonymous said...

Well - remember, like many reporters - Brian is at the mercy of his editors - it's entirely possible that his original piece was more balanced, and got altered in the editing. He wouldn't be the first reporter to have that happen - and as someone else pointed out, he needs to keep his job. I'd imagine it's a bit of a tightrope dance with bosses like the Times watching over his shoulder. Not an excuse - just reality.


a reader

Anonymous said...

oops - sorry for double post -
a reader

suep. said...

The article claims to have been "updated" this morning at 10:39 AM and the Comments section looks like it's finally open for business, so if anyone's so inclined...

Teach for America's rocky first year

Anonymous said...

The Times' comment section appears not to be working. Too bad because it would give a chance at other perspectives.

The WA Post has a story today of Duncan funneling more $$ to TFA. As "Savvy Voter" noted, TFA has the Cool Kids thing going for it at the moment. It will be interesting to see what critical research finds on the organization in the coming years. More $$ means more scrutiny, I suspect.

And yes, Lisa MacFarlane's public testimony was laughable. She also scolded the public for using the Open Records Act. You know - the legislation that keeps the public in the loop about their government - a fundamental part of Democracy. Elitism knows no political party, as Hanauer's Education Reform tantrum and MacFarlane's testimony aptly show.

EdVoter

Anonymous said...

Here is that WA Post story link.

EdVoter

suep. said...

Did anyone catch Ann Dornfeld's report on ending the TFA, Inc. contract on KPLU (88.5 FM)?

Anyone know what she meant when she said that only DeBell and Martin-Morris support the TFA, Inc. contract?

Isn't Carr and Smith-Blum's support for TFA, Inc. a foregone conclusion too?


KUOW News
School Board Considers Ending Teach For America Contract

Ann Dornfeld
03/08/2012
The Seattle School Board is considering ending the district's contract with Teach for America after one year. Some board members question whether the organization's training gets new college graduates ready to teach. KUOW's Ann Dornfeld reports.

TRANSCRIPT

Teach for America, or TFA, is a sort of domestic Peace Corps for low–income schools. It lets new college grads teach with five weeks of training instead of the usual teaching certificate. TFA claims its teachers are more effective at narrowing the achievement gap than other new teachers. But the data is mixed.

Seattle's contract with TFA began this school year. Schools in the district hired six TFA recruits. But the school board's two new members seem to be tipping the scales against hiring any more TFA teachers.

Sharon Peaslee said she wouldn't want her kids to be taught by TFA teachers.

Sharon Peaslee: "We have many really good teacher training programs in our city that are providing us with a pool of very qualified teachers. We do not need teachers who have only had five weeks of training."

TFA charges the district $4,000 per teacher. A private donor paid that fee this year, and Peaslee asked the district to figure out who would pay next year.

Board member Marty McClaren said hiring from TFA is disrespectful to experienced, credentialed teachers. Board member Betty Patu said the district should instead be hiring the many qualified teachers looking for work.

Board member Harium Martin–Morris said if TFA teachers are getting jobs that certificated teachers want, it's for good reason.

Harium Martin–Morris: "While yes, there are teachers looking for jobs, they were in that pool. These were the people that rose to the top."

Only board member Michael DeBell joined Martin–Morris in supporting the TFA contract.

Teach for America Seattle–Tacoma executive director Lindsay Hill spoke during public testimony. She told the board that while TFA recruits may not have the usual teaching credentials, they are highly qualified because of their educational backgrounds and other experience.

The board is scheduled to vote on whether to cancel the TFA contract in two weeks.

I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2012, KUOW

cascade said...

TFA Alum Dean Tom Stritikus procured a home for TFA at his major university, access to huge money donors in Seattle, relationships with the Liberal Elite and a cozy relationship with Enfield.

Seattle Public Schools received grief and a handful of recruits - some of whom may be good teachers.

In the words of Aretha Franklin, 'Who's Zoomin Who?'

Please know that there are many who are neither fans of TFA nor of Stritikus in both the education and Seattle civic community.

cascade said...

TFA Alum Dean Tom Stritikus procured a home for TFA at his major university, access to huge money donors in Seattle, relationships with the Liberal Elite and a cozy relationship with Enfield.

Seattle Public Schools received grief and a handful of recruits - some of whom may be good teachers.

In the words of Aretha Franklin, 'Who's Zoomin Who?'

Please know that there are many who are neither fans of TFA nor of Stritikus in both the education and Seattle civic community.

StopTFA said...

Carr and KSB were purposefully reticent.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, As usual the powers that be are trying to marginalize you and this blog.

Don't let them and keep writing. We all learn so much here. Just the fact that TFA testimony was so different at this week's board session than last year's means you have made an impact.

Specific to TFA on Wednesday: The burglary charge was a canard. Lisa MacLane's boohoo about public records requests was...telling. Shame on her. And the TFA regional director's stats about how they are increasing diversity in Seattle via their recruits (uhhhhh THREE teachers of color is not 'increasing diversity') was laughable and flat out misleading.

I didn't think Rosenthal's article was awful, but it could have used more opinion from those who question TFA. This is not just sour grapes - there are plenty of reasons to question what TFA is doing in Seattle as a "priority."

I also agree that reporters need to stop using the PTA as THE voice of parents. It's simplistic and in the case of McGuire in this article, she has zero ground to stand on. In fact, a story about the PTA should probably be put into Rosenthal's story queue. But that's for another thread, no doubt.

DistrictWatcher

StopTFA said...

Another laughable Rosenthal nugget is the public records note and comment from the SPS public records officer. Like the Seattle Times NEVER requests public records. Well, in this case they SHOULD. Then he would know something about the subject he's reporting on.

It surprises me that an apparently talented young journalist from Colgate University would allow himself to be led by the nose. Did someone (LEV? Blethen Jr.? Hanauer's gang?) tell him talk to this person and that person, but definitely not THOSE people. Perhaps he's gunning for Varner's "job" tweeting the Golden Globes red carpet?

Hey, it doesn't make me happy to dump on those coming up in the world, but there's no excuse for sloppiness and pandering.

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said...

Rosenthal's article now says that you can comment on it using Facebook,here, but I don't see any comments posted. Of course using Facebook basically means you can't be anonymous.

Josh Hayes said...

I'll echo the comments from "a reader" above -- remember, Mr. Rosenthal doesn't just type out the article and, presto!, it's in the paper. Idio-- err, I mean, EDITORS! :-) -- hack it up first, and what winds up being in the paper often is quite different from what was originally written. Efforts at balance might have wound up on the cutting-room floor. But that there even is a controversy around TFA is something that might not have made the paper in years past: move along, nothing to see here.

We know Brian reads this blog, and has posted here in the past. Slagging him isn't going to help the cause of truthfulness: let us encourage him to fight for more balance in his published work. To fight for some skeptical voices for a change.

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's fine for everyone to have their own opinion on the article and Mr. Rosenthal's writing. Yes, I do know about editors and clearly the Times, rather than wanting to be fair and factual in their news articles, is choosing to slant them. This is disturbing because that is for the editorial department, not news.

The reason I am not happy is this has happened to me before. And frankly, it gest old and I am getting old and cranky and don't have the patience for it.

And it's not my job to help out any reporter and so, lesson learned. In the future, I won't freely give out any tips/ideas/background.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget how much information reporters are able to get these days depends upon "access." If you lose "access" to the big wigs, then you get nothing to write about and lose any meaningful credibility and impact you can have as a reporter.

I don't envy the self-censorship any reporter must exercise in today's world, but at some point, the objects of the pieces, and/or the editors can make or break a good reporter's career if they don't toe the line satisfactorily.

If Rosenthal speaks his mind and pisses people off, his access will be turned off, along with the information spigot. And where are we then?

WSDWG

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

Actually, WSDWG, I believe that if people like Rosenthal would stop reporting on and repeatedly regurgitating what the 'big wigs' have to say and would instead talk to and report what the rest of us are saying and doing, and search out new sources, they'd get better stories, and might actually start getting to the truth and the whole picture of public ed and negative effects of "ed reform."

I have a journalism background myself, and every day I see tons of great story ideas just in this blog and the Seattle Ed Blog and just from talking to parents and teachers in SPS.

Anyone can repurpose a LEV, Alliance or SPS press release that is sent to them.

Real reporters go out and find the news and cultivate new sources.

Anonymous said...

"I just know I need every tool in my tool kit to produce a district that is going to be successful."
--D.C. Chancellor Kaya Henderson
regarding charter schools

So, when research proves poor outcomes for your project or plan, use the tool kit rationale, right?

Kay Smith Blum, we also have a tool in our toolkit. It's called voting (in your next school board election).

Cliches simply do not fly with an educated electorate that is committed to quality education for all children. Experimenting on the most vulnerable among us is intolerable.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

By the way, the burglary was very unfortunate.

However, the damage being done to the students of color living in poverty by TFA (and the mentality that is supporting it) in Seattle is much more tragic.

Let's look at the real victims here.

--enough already

Chris S. said...

I thought Rosenthal got some key info out there - the five weeks training, that they are about as good as other first-year teachers, and that teachers improve with experience. Let the facts speak for themselves. Let the promoters stick their feet in their mouths.

mitt said...

Oh, come on. The Rosenthal article was terrible.

Any journalism teacher will tell you that a writer who labels a person a "traditionalist" for believing that teaching is a profession that should require an actual college degree in teaching, is using loaded language and has an agenda that is not befitting a true journalist.

As someone who has had a good relationship with former press people and has been a "source" on some fairly important issues, I recommend people who value true journalism find a true journalist, and sadly, that is clearly not Brian Rosenthal. He might earn a short-term paycheck from the Times for this type of writing, but he is seriously damaging his career long-term. I would laugh at and run from this article if he presented it to me in a portfolio of his work.

So where else can serious journalism occur in this city? Is there someone at the PI blog who will print well-balanced truth rather than propaganda? I will not be speaking with Rosenthal when he comes calling for a scoop.

Anonymous said...

For those interested in such things - the comment function is back up at the Times

a reader

StopTFA said...

You know, it is more than sad when our newest Assistant Superintendent (yes, there's another one) will stand in front of the board, hem and haw, and yet proclaim that TFA required no extra effort than any other applicant. You will see for yourself shortly...

StopTFA said...

So, if you stuck around for the grueling interrogation of staff you saw Asst Supt Apostle state, rather haltingly, that no additional effort was required to hire TFA (check #3 board video for the 3/7 meeting, minute 8:59). Then take a gander at these emails...

dan dempsey said...

... humm Chris S wrote:

I thought Rosenthal got some key info out there - the five weeks training, that they are about as good as other first-year teachers, and that teachers improve with experience. Let the facts speak for themselves. Let the promoters stick their feet in their mouths.

I disagree the data does not show that "first year" TFA teachers are about as good as fully credentialed first year teachers.

You see there are significant advantages to having more than 5 weeks of training and this is shown by results.

Only in far less than stellar Tennessee have I seen anything that hints that newby TFA CM's in their first year perform as well or better than fully credentialed beginning teachers.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What's interesting is that if you were really writing an article about TFA's rocky first year you would have included:

- the scramble by SPS to find a donor for at least the first year of TFA (which they barely did)
- the completely mishandled alt certification process over at the College of Ed by Dean Stritikus that left both faculty and students feeling confused and suspicious
- the fact that TFA expected to have 35-40 teachers placed and have 11. That means that the UW program is running in the red just as our Legislature struggles with more cuts to higher ed. So it's THAT important to have this program over other established programs at UW? Hard to see how that could be. And, the TFA website claims there are 35 TFA teachers working in the Puget Sound area.
- there were originally 12 TFA and yes, one bolted rather quickly. And, that person was not replaced by another TFA but rather a fully-credentialed teacher.

An article with that information would show a rocky first year.

Chris S. said...

OK, OK, so much for sticking up for Rosenthal. Still, the article is much more detailed and factual than anything we saw last time around. I do realize I should credit DORA TAYLOR for foiling TFA's attempts to hide the 5-week fact and making it so the Times can't ignore that kind of stuff now.

I'm not an expert on news vs. editorial. I've been reading Linda Shaw and Lynne Varner so long it's just a matter of bad-crap and worse-crap.

dan dempsey said...

TFA mishandled... More to report but not by Rosenthal

Sept 21 and October 5 ... Board authorizes Enfield to seek conditional certs for TFA Corp members Robinette, Maldanado and Caldron... ASAP.

Enfield finally makes the applications on Nov 7 ... but not for the reason authorized by the Board.... instead citing exceptional talent of the TFA CMs.

The deception and lies just keep on rolling along.

DeBell and Martin-Morris recently categorized this as an experiment ... and M-M is looking for data from an uncontrolled experiment based on an extremely small sample size.

Anonymous said...

These guys will regret the day when they first called TFA an experiment. We've been calling it an experiment all along, but not in a good way.

Experimenting on children without their parents' permission is usually illegal, but it's always unethical.

How is this Apostale going to justify his public lie with all of these emails contradicting him?

How about it Kay Smith Blum? How do you like the real answer to your question about extraordinary time (and money) going to these untrained hires?

Lies are a frequent tool in the toolkit for all of these TFA apolgizers. It just reeks of corruption.

--enough already

Melissa Westbrook said...

I asked Mr. Apostle about his statement to the Board. He said he asked his staff and they really didn't have very many issues with TFA applications. I told him I would send him the e-mails I saw.

I'm sure he might say those were just a couple of tough days (and he might be right) but the e-mails do reflect some aggravation over handling the TFA applications.

It may be how you want to read them.

Anonymous said...

"I'm sure he might say those were just a couple of tough days"

...and that's the whole point (and the question he was responding to).
Non TFA hires do not cause this degree of staff work.

What he lied about at the meeting was that he said it didn't cause any significant work beyond the typical hire. In addition to the time taken to write and respond to these emails, staff clearly had paperwork and phone calls way beyond what a normal hire would require--and this is with just what, six TFA hires. Multiply that, like TFA would have us do. We can all do the math.

Of course, the bigger story here is that yet another lie was told to the school board and public last week on behalf of TFA. This is addition to those well documented by Dan Dempsey, as well as the many deceptions (like Enfield's charade about funding) which would be characterized as lies by most ethicists.

I'm sure Mr. Apostle will "say" something in response to the evidence of these emails. That doesn't make it true.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

By the way, has anyone forwarded this string of emails to Kay Smith Blum, our probing swing-voter?

--enough already

StopTFA said...

I hope print a select few to send along, like Jeff Clark really pushing to keep his inexperienced non-HQ SpEd TFA-er as an intern or Academic Intervention Specialist. He and Aurora Lora went to a CO meeting to lobby for that brainstorm.

Anonymous said...

I thought the article very balanced and accurate. The only place people get worked up over TFA is in the blogosphere - and Rosenthal noted that. How come none of the TFA detractors note the "costs" of the scands and scads of fruitless lawsuits, public records requests, and general handling of belly-aching? Harium actually said it best when he noted that these TFA teachers were hired from a competitive pool of applicants by the hiring team at their schools. On the one hand, these same bloggers complain about "top down decisions" and then ironically whine when a local school decides something they disagree with.

-you can't have it both ways

StopTFA said...

"How come none of the TFA detractors note the "costs" of the scands and scads of fruitless lawsuits, public records requests, ...On the one hand, these same bloggers complain about "top down decisions" and then ironically whine when a local school decides something they disagree with."

Open government and sunshine laws are the price of a democracy, where "the people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them."

And these "school-based hiring teams" at Aki, SS, and RBHS pro-TFA speakers made much of had NO parents on them. In fact RB had the principal, a downtown admin and one teacher. Aki's had the Principal, the Asst Principal, and the student teacher coordinator/staff developer (can we say conflict of interest?). Yeah, so don't hang alot on that one. In fact, I'll have to make sure KSB is aware of this...

Funny, if you look at the latest emails (and admit it, y'know you want to. 50K views means an electorate that is that much smarter), you'll see that principals dutifully reported any naughty emails from parents to Holly Ferguson. So she could sic her flying monkees. I need to fetch me a bucket of water.

Anonymous said...

It's not surprising that RB, SS, and Aki had no parents. Are those parents on any district committees, task forces, advocacy groups? Did any apply? Did any ask to be on hiring teams? Were any available? Hmm. You don't that one. Why do you think parents would come up with a different decision?

StopTFA - I guarantee that you've never been on a school hiring team. If you had, you'd realize that the team really does do what's best for their schools - and certainly better than a bunch of bloggers.

Lots of excuses for all the wasted taxpayer dollars for your hand-wringing. "Price of democracy". Well, same for TFA. You haven't won, have you? All that bellyaching hasn't amounted to anything. And not 1 improvement for students.

-ychibw

suep. said...

Actually, ychibw, the Rainier Beach High School PTA has a very active and informed leadership. They were very involved in the selection of their new principal, for example. And it's my understanding that they oppose TFA, Inc. coming to their school. So it does not sound like parents were given much say in the TFA, Inc. hires at RBHS. And that's precisely what many of us parents (who are not just active in the blogosphere, by the way, but in our kids' schools as well) object to about TFA, Inc. -- no one asked us parents if we wanted 5-week crash-course novices teaching our kids instead of fully trained, experienced teachers.

No, as those public disclosure e-mails show, TFA, Inc. was snuck into Seattle through backstage maneuvering by a small political group of people, some with ties to TFA, Inc (like Stritikus and Goodloe-Johnson) who very intentionally tried to keep parents out of the discussion and in the dark until it was a done deal.

StopTFA said...

I'd say the waste of taxpayer dollars is the $50M+ of federal tax dollars for a temporary job placement company TFA inc. Most of that goes to marketers, staffers or recruiters who make the backroom deals (like Seattle, Cobb County, Tacoma's next) go around shilling the "we're the greatest", save the world, then go on the make scads of money in for-profit education. Is that the student outcome you're talking about?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The only place people get worked up over TFA is in the blogosphere - and Rosenthal noted that."

Really? And you know that how? And Rosenthal knows that how? Let us know.

Both Ways, I used that exact point in my testimony at the Board meeting. We had hundreds of hires and out of all our schools and their site-based hiring teams, only a couple of schools hired TFA. That speaks volumes to me. If TFA recruits were that great, they would have been hired.

The UW COE program just for TFA and no one else is now running in the red. How do you justify that expense for the taxpayers of Washington when UW is cutting needed programs?

Are those parents on any district committees, task forces, advocacy groups?

Probably but the district and the schools pick who are on the teams. That MOST site-based teams have parents and those who didn't were the ones who hired TFA is interesting.

I HAVE been on a site-based hiring team, so yes, I do know what I'm talking about.

We did accomplish a lot here and mainly that we allow open discussion on public education topics. There is virtually nowhere else to do that.

NorthSeattleParentofTwo said...

One interjection about the characterization of teacher cert programs:
LONG teacher training programs? As in terms of years?? I insist to differ.
Teachers having a minimum of a Bachelors degree is universal for most school districts, so let's agree that's the zero line.
Last I checked, which was last week as it happens, you can get a teacher certificate locally in 5 quarters. A bachelor's degree + Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer = Ready to teach legally and fully certified by the September which falls one year after securing your bachelor's degree. ONE year. 14 months if you want to be picky.

Sure there are some longer-than-5-quarter programs, especially for higher degrees - Ex: Seattle U offers a 2 or 3 year program if you want a Master's in Teaching along with your teacher's certificate. They also have a PhD + cert program. So you can choose a longer route, if you like. But no one's suggesting the TFA 'teachers' are coming in with PhD's are they?
Now, If you already hold a cert from another state or have a master's , then there are even faster or easier routes to endorsed certification here in WA: Ex: Whitworth offers an ONLINE course than runs from late January to December. Heck, you can even get endorsed /certified for Special Ed teaching from City U, of which there are several locations around Lake Washington.
Antioch, Northwest College, SPU, SU, NSCC/WWU, UWbothell, HeritageU, CityU - these ALL offer state-approved teacher certificate programs right here in the greater seattle area. EASY/CONVENIENT. FAST. So, come on, TFA & Seattle Times editors... stop making up BS.

Couldn't be easier ...for the trained, motivated and commited teacher-to-be.

NorthSeattleParentofTwo said...

great link for the anti-TFA crowd (though myself, I'm split ... I think TFA might have value, but we don't really have a need here in most of seattle):
former TFA corps speaks up about what's wrong with TFA from a corps standpoint and why he left:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2-LW31oQ-bc

dw said...

Looks like blogger lost my post from a few days ago. A little out of date, but I'll repost it here anyway:

dw said...
By the way, has anyone forwarded this string of emails to Kay Smith Blum, our probing swing-voter?

Now that would be a good idea. In fact, maybe she should get it from several people. She's a sharp cookie, and If she is indeed a swing voter (we'll see), it can't hurt.

Back to the main topic here, I agree with WSDWG's first comment. Brian Rosenthal is by far the best education reporter on the Times' staff, and he's by far the junior guy on the totem pole. I don't think it's helpful to insult him with a blog post (title) like this, especially when we have no idea what kind of cuts were made to his article. Depending on the publication, I think sometimes the writers don't even see the edits until the article hits the street/web. Even as it was written, I didn't think it was terrible. Lacking in other info we'd like to see published, certainly, but terrible? I didn't have that feeling when I read it.

What any writer chooses to write and what actually gets published is a complex process. As WSDWG later posts, access to sources is critically important. You might get away with an occasional article that your bosses (and their special buddies) don't love, but you're not going to get away with it every week, nor will you get away with over-the-top articles that go against the editors' wishes. An exposé like StopTFA suggests takes a long time, sometimes years, to build because it requires the trust of many people along the way. And it's a burn-your-bridges career move, you don't do it unless it's air tight and irrefutable. It's easy to write blog comments, especially since most of us write anonymously and have little to lose if we need to say "Oops, sorry, I got that one completely wrong."

Bottom line, I feel like this young man is our best hope of real education journalism in this town (in the big media), and I feel like he's still cutting his teeth and learning the ropes. It's not helpful to alienate him just because we've been jaded after suffering years of crap by everyone else. And if I'm wrong? Oh well, I've got nothing to lose, I can just change my username. See how that works?