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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Now I'm REALLY Not Going

I received an e-mail from LEV touting the upcoming visit of TFA head, Wendy Kopp. She's doing a talk AND a book signing (good way to combine pushing your book AND TFA). So there was link to the LEV website with an article about the visit.
I get they are pro-ed reform but this was over the top for me.

“Bringing Teach for America (TFA) to the Puget Sound is a real breakthrough in our focus on the achievement gap,” said LEV’s Chief Executive Officer Chris Korsmo. “Their commitment to the kids and schools that struggle the most is extraordinary. It’s long overdue – we’ve been exporting talent to other TFA sites and it’s high time we tapped into that resource and kept these talented individuals in the Puget Sound area.”

First of all, I just don't think TFA will make even a dent our the achievement gap in our district. It's interesting because in the press release they tout research on how "highly effective" TFA recruits are but nothing about closing any school's achievement gap.

Second, you could reverse Ms. Korsmo's second statement to say that it seems unwise, in a poor economy, to be importing TFA recruits when we have so many qualified unemployed teachers in Washington State already. I have a feeling that TFA doesn't necessarily allow recruits to pick their own state so it's not like we would be keeping "talented" WA state grads. Also, are most of our Washington State education grads leaving? How does she know that is true?

It appears no other districts besides Seattle and Federal Way have signed on. I'm sure it's about the money and not TFA (I know a superintendent in Edmonds said he'd love to have them but they have no money). What's interesting is they are supposed to have a university sponsor and yet none is mentioned. Hmm.

17 comments:

Greg said...

On closing the achievement gap, it appears that most of it is due to loss during summer vacation. This recent article in Time magazine has a good writeup:

"The Case Against Summer Vacation"

From the article:

"After collecting a century's worth of academic studies, summer-learning expert Harris Cooper, now at Duke University, concluded that, on average, all students lose about a month of progress in math skills each summer, while low-income students slip as many as three months in reading comprehension, compared with middle-income students. Another major study, by a team at Johns Hopkins University, examined more than 20 years of data meticulously tracking the progress of students from kindergarten through high school. The conclusion: while students made similar progress during the school year, regardless of economic status, the better-off kids held steady or continued to make progress during the summer, but disadvantaged students fell back. By the end of grammar school, low-income students had fallen nearly three grade levels behind, and summer was the biggest culprit. By ninth grade, summer learning loss could be blamed for roughly two-thirds of the achievement gap separating income groups."

ConcernedTeacher said...

Considering that next year my own district will be laying off some very talented teachers (mostly part-time or 1-year contract people so far) as they increase class sizes to compensate for the decreased budget, I would say there is no shortage of qualified WA State teachers. There is certainly no valid reason to be bringing unqualified, new "teachers" into the state who will require additional time, training, and funds when we honestly have none to spare.

StopTFA said...

I say all is not lost after Congress' back alley "quickie" (hey, that illustrates their "thought processes").

I say HB 3026 is new weapon we can use. Why are the children in "high poverty" schools the LUCKY ones to have more inexperienced teachers (HQT distinction or NOT) than not-so-high poverty schools?

dan dempsey said...

This is such a pile of crap.

Who is paying for these lies? LEV?

In Nashville 10% of TfA teachers taught a third year.

There is no district that had a full complement of highly qualified teachers in which TfA improved anything.

In Seattle only 1 class in 200 was taught by a non-highly qualified teacher.

That 1:200 rate was the same for both low income and non-low income schools. So why are the low income schools stuck with the TfA newbies?

Oh yes, I forgot. It is all part of MGJ's plan for increasingly unequal schools.

Eric M said...

OK.

Let's talk about this phrase "achievement gap."

All of us who see the wolf hiding beneath the sheep's coat that is Ed-Reform should stop using that phrase.

Instead, whenever you see it in print, and whenever it comes up in conversation, repeat it back as "Opportunity Gap."

Achievement Gap = kids that don't do well on the majority-culture-normed test.
The test that our company just happens to sell. The test that can break teachers' unions and close schools, and slice public education up into revenue streams.

Opportunity Gap = kids that are homeless, kids without family, kids with a parent in jail, kids in lousy housing, kids who are hungry, kids who don't have health insurance.

Using "Opportunity Gap" gets at all the pathologies of our increasingly 3rd world country. It doesn't let teachers off the hook, but insists that they're not the only problem. Not by a long shot.

Patrick said...

Excellent phrase, Eric M.

suep. said...

Good point, Eric. Also, what about that good old-fashioned term "income gap"? No one likes to talk about that in America, but it's at the root of so many of our nation's problems.

--sue. p.

zb said...

I'm really concerned about the shadow "non-profit" education industry developing around debate.

Wendy Kopp is paid $333K (not including whatever she makes off the books and book tours). TFA's president is paid another 274K. That's .35% of their expenses. For some reason I don't understand, in 2009, their expenses are less than half their revenues.

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4992

I've been learning that much of this money comes from taxpayers.

So, I'm not going, either. And, I'm not buying the book.

SolvayGirl said...

I'd read in one of my business magazines (Publishing Executive, I think) that Education is going to be the next BIG industry. There's just something wrong with that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Of course it is the next big industry. Look how great they did with healthcare. There are huge sums of money to be made testing, creating schools, closing schools, you name it.

none1111 said...

Mel, something to consider:

Instead of saying "Now I'm REALLY Not Going" (which is certainly not a surprising reaction), how about "Now I REALLY NEED to go, so I can make sure some of the attendees get another opinion!". i.e. an educated, realistic viewpoint. If there's no pushback, there's no critical thinking.

I don't think most of these folks are "bad", per se., but they definitely are definitely seeing things through a very biased lens, and if they're only directly hearing from the rah-rah crowd, it's understandable that they end up with the prescribed opinions.

If through direct personal contact you could manage to throw some doubt into even a few of them it might make a difference. Of course that means keeping your cool (something I might have a hard time doing) and presenting very convincing arguments, since they are likely getting very polished presentations from the other side. Certainly someone like Kopp has faced formidable adversaries, and will be well-armed. And of course you wouldn't be invited back.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I went to the event with the KIPP guy, the Green Dot guy, etc. I didn't get called on for a question (and yes, I think the moderator knew who I was and the moderator this time is the head of LEV who definitely knows who I am). So I wouldn't get called on. It's hard to give another side when you can't be heard.

Also, LEV has a "blog" but they never answer any challenges. I think (1) they fear arguments starting and (2) they want their blog to be all "we can do it" and good news. That's fine but the education fight is not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. I wish it were.

So it's a waste of my time. (Although given how former TFAers are, I suspect it will be quite the lovefest and might be good for some laughs.)

It's interesting that you mention keeping your cool. I am generally pretty good at it at public events because I know it gets you nowhere to be a loose cannon. But the one time in my recent memory WAS at the the TFA vote at a Board meeting. (It was only me and another woman in the parking lot and I wish I could find her someday to apologize for using a swear word. I don't apologize for being against TFA but you do have to keep it civil.)

none1111 said...

I went to the event with the KIPP guy, the Green Dot guy, etc. I didn't get called on for a question (and yes, I think the moderator knew who I was and the moderator this time is the head of LEV who definitely knows who I am). So I wouldn't get called on. It's hard to give another side when you can't be heard.

Well that sucks, but I suppose it's not that surprising.

At these events do you get "free time" to hang out and chat with the various attendees? That's actually more of what I was thinking. Of course it's great if you can also make a few points to a full audience, but I find if you're able to have private conversations where you can genuinely talk (and listen) with one or two people at a time, that it's easier to get your points across in a more persuasive way. If for no other reason than they can't ignore your questions. Since you are well educated on these matters - especially as to how they relate to SPS in particular, I'd have to think you'd have a chance of throwing a little doubt into at least a few people.

I guess you have to use your past experiences as a guide though. If being blockaded reduces the potential payoff-to-frustration balance too far, well, that's just nasty, and really weak on their part. Scaredy-cats!

none1111 said...

Oh, and of course that was just a lucky coincidence on mentioning the keeping your cool part, since I couldn't have known. I was thinking about myself! ;-)

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
suep. said...

I've also been wondering about Teach for America, Inc.'s finances. Look at all the money that is being directed TFA's way--plus the Obama administration's contribution of another $50 million in federal funding last year (details below). (!)

Here's an excerpt from a Seattle Ed 2010 post I wrote not too long ago:

I did some research and was surprised to discover that Teach for America, Incorporated is actually a multimillion-dollar enterprise. It is funded by all the usual suspects and then some: Gates, Broad, the (WalMart) Waltons, Dells, (the Gap) Fishers. Its founder sits on the board of directors of the Broad Foundation (alongside Seattle’s Superintendent Goodloe-Johnson), one of the unelected, unqualified but main drivers of education policy in America right now.

Info about TFA funders can be found in their Annual Report.

Here are a few excerpts:

National Growth Fund Investors (2006-10) The following funders generously supported our significant growth between 2006 – 2010.

$10 Million

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation
Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
Doris & Donald Fisher Fund
Rainwater Charitable Funds

National Growth Fund Investors (2009-13) The following funders generously committed to support our significant growth between 2009 – 2013.

$10 Million

Doris & Donald Fisher Fund
Martha and Bruce Karsh
Robertson Foundation
The Walton Family Foundation

$6 Million

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation

Why does TFA, Inc. need so much money to give college kids only five weeks of training? This “nonprofit” sure has a lot of money coursing through its corridors.


Some more reading:
Are 1,000 Teach For America Teachers Worth $8 Million?"

Teach For America: A bad deal for public education
Studies show professional teachers outperform much-lauded organization's uncertified recruits


And still more money was handed over to Wendy Kopp's TFA, and her husband's KIPP venture by the Obama administration last year -- --$50 million each in "Investing in Innovation" grants. Not a bad haul for the Kopp-Barth household.

I guess that solved the complaint about TFA getting "uncontested" federal grants.

See this blog,
02/11/2010 The Washington Post
WASHINGTON-Teach for America, which enlists recent college graduates for two-year stints in some of the nation’s most challenging public schools, would lose its uncontested claim on $18 million in federal funding under an Obama administration proposal to launch a grant competition for teacher training programs.

It sounds like TFA may have merely traded in $18 million in "uncontested" federal funding for $50 million in federal "competition" funding.

--sue p.

(p.s. I posted this last night and it disappeared. Any reason why the blog administrator deleted it?)

Melissa Westbrook said...

None, good point and yes there is time to mingle.

Seattle Ed, that was my error. I was checking the Spam section and your comment had gotten caught there and I hit delete (and there's no undo). Sorry.