TFA Protest at School Board Meeting

A group called Great Schools for America (GSA) is joining with Parents Across America (PAA) to protest the hiring of TFA corps members into teaching jobs at Seattle public schools.

See this post on the Daily Kos.


dan dempsey said…
WOW ... Stopping the experimentation on students. Now that is a great idea. This is not research this is lunacy. The Board had all the Helig research etc. but decided to ignore it and voted for TFA. The ignoring of research in favor of what the "Gates Foundation" advises has become a recurring theme..... especially for the Class elected in 2007.

Perhaps Sundquist could modify his math thoughts and do the same "Stopping of Experimentation" in the Mathematics area. Perhaps the SPS would consider using Math Instructional materials and Practices known to be effective.

It seems that just recently OSPI Director of Math, Greta Bornemann has become aware of what the NMAP released in March of 2008 actually advises. She now finds NMAP an excellent guide.

Since Sundquist claimed to have read NMAP so throughly at the time of his "For KCP Discovering Vote for HS math" .. perhaps he actually needs to read NMAP and Stop the Giant SPS Math Experimentation on Students. .... Same goes for the Project Based Learning $800,000 New Tech Experiment.

Director Steve Sundquist has a remarkable propensity to ignore evidence and make decisions to the detriment of Students.
Just realized. said…
TFA isn't any different than medical students and residents working in our countries poorest hospitals.
Just realized, could you elaborate on that statement?
dj said…
Just realized, that analogy would work, perhaps, if those residents tended to leave medicine within five years.
Lori said…
Medical residents have completed medical school. TFA teachers do not have teaching degrees. It's a false equivalency.
Lori said…
Medical students, working as sub-interns, work directly under the direction of other doctors, so again not a good analogy. TFA teachers have free rein in the classroom. Back in the day when I worked with sub-interns, they couldn't even order a test or a medication for a patient without a licensed doctor signing off on it.
Charlie Mas said…
Actually, student teachers working in classrooms under the direct supervision of a certificated teacher would be the equivalent of an intern providing medical service in a hospital.

Teach for America is more like getting an emergency tracheotomy from someone who watched an episode of McGiver. Wait. That's not fair. Teach for America is more like getting an emergency tracheotomy from a Stanford graduate who watched an episode of McGiver.
another mom said…
"medical students and residents working in our countries poorest hospitals."

This analogy is a crock. First of all medical students do rotations in a variety of medical disciplines at teaching hospitals prior to getting an MD. Teaching hospitals s/a the UW and Children's are among the finest in the U.S. rather than the poorest. Medical students are not allowed to practice medicine as they are not qualified, have not passed the necessary exams, nor have they done the required residencies at teaching hospitals which last anywhere from three years on up. It is longer than a five week bootcammp. They are not bestowed an MD, let loose in our neediest communities and then credited for finding the cure for cancer. Dream on.
Bird said…
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Bird said…
TFA isn't any different than medical students and residents working in our countries poorest hospitals.

Wouldn't the poorest hospitals also have to have the sickest patients to make the analogy work as well?

That's the part that is the most appalling about this TFA thing. It is, of course, awful to target poor students with these teachers, but we are effectively also targeting the kids who are the furthest behind. These are the kids who need the most experienced and proven teachers and the most stability in their schools staff.

Charlie, I laughed outloud, Thanks.
Just realized said…
Sorry, after more thought comparing medical students and residents to TFA is a bad analogy.

The only similarity is we'll have inexperienced TFA working in high need areas.

Medical students and residents have multiple tiers of supervision. Medical students and residents have more systems of checks and balances.

Medical students and residents work in teaching universities; surrounded by high levels knowledge. Will TFA have same level of support?

Teaching hospitals also offer advanced levels of care, not given in community hospitals.

Sorry, bad analogy.
Charlie Mas said…
I know other people who are troubled by the elitism that permeates Teach for America. That elitism is at the very heart of the idea:

Of course it would be insane and pointless to put recent college graduates with five weeks of training in front of classrooms, but - and this is the detail that makes Teach for America what it is - TfA corps members are SPECIAL. They are SPECIAL because they come from the nation's most prestigious universities. They are the cream of the crop, the best and the brightest. These super-human high-achievers can do things beyond the abilities of ordinary mortals. They can swoop in and, without anything like the usual requisite preparation, magically boost student achievement. They can do because they are driven, they are dedicated, they are smart, and they are just so darn perky and SPECIAL. I think they twinkle a bit, but you can only see it in low light. The students benefit, in large part, from proximity with the aura of these SPECIAL people, our corps members.

There is no mention of Teach for America that does not eventually acknowledge that the program is predicated on the SPECIAL, SPECIAL people they recruit as corps members.
Maggie Hooks said…
@just realized: it is actually very different. there is a rigid hierarchy of supervision of medical trainees with a logical progression of increasing autonomy and responsibility. nobody gets to deliver a baby or take out an appendix on their own for years. additionally, medical trainees are in many types of hospitals, from urban tertiary care centers to rural little community hospitals, not only the county hospitals of big cities. there are many inequities in American health care, but the presence of training physicians isn't one of them.
Maggie Hooks said…
oops sorry to jump on -- just saw your retraction.
dj said…
Just Realized, good on you.
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anonymous said…
I don't think we should bag on TFA recruits to much.

While I agree that TFA is not needed here in Seattle, I find it alarming that we have such tunnel vision and are unable to recognize that they may be a very valuable resource elsewhere. I think TFA has huge potential in district across the US that from time to time experience teacher shortages. In fact I think they are a much needed, vital, resource in those area. They are probably very welcome in districts where their recruits are placed in classrooms that would otherwise have permanent, rotating subs, for the entire school year.

I believe that "Special" and "elite" TFA recruits can certainly fill the void in these types pf situations.

So go ahead and fight to keep TFA out of SPS, we don't need them currently, but I wouldn't be so quick to write the organization off. If we should ever find ourselves with a severe teacher shortage (like CA currently is), we might change our tune a bit - might even roll out the red carpet for TFA recruits.
peonypower said…
if the demonization of teaching continues the way it has maybe Seattle will have a teacher shortage, because all of the good teachers will have quit. Then you can bring in TFA. Peon- have you read TFA's mission lately? It is a far cry from filling shortages. They plan to grow their corp "aggressively," and their goal is to create leaders not teachers.

If someone wants to be a teacher they should learn to be a teacher. Just like if someone wants to be a doctor, a lawyer, an electrician, a plumber they get trained for that job. I would not want a "special" plumber working on my house who did not have training. Why should teaching be any different? Because there are millions of dollars at play here that's why. TFA won a 50 million federal grant last year and that is merely one drop in the bucket of all the funding TFA has received. What are they doing with that money? They are "positioning themselves aggressively." TFA is not about teaching or educating- it is about money.
StopTFA said…
OMG, Charlie! "twinkle"! ur killin' me!

Dam straight peonypower. My husband had to train and apprentice to become a journey plumber. Why? Because people could get sick and die if he did not do his job. But many hire "plumbing technicians" whose only qualification is that they will work for less than 1/2 the money. Who cares if someone gets hurt.

A twinkling TFA scab can hurt my special needs child because he or she doesn't know better. Gee, the boot camp didn't tell me how to handle anxiety/autism/ADD. Tough, pass your LSATs, stay away from my child.
anonymous said…
peonypower maybe TFA wants to take over the world? Who cares? SPS has the power to say, yes, we need you TFA, welcome. Or, no thanks, we don't need your services right now, we'll keep you in mind should we need you in the future. We're in control, not them.

I'm not saying that TFA recruits are an ideal option in any situation. They aren't. But what I am saying is that they can be preferable to other, even worse, options. For instance when there are teacher shortages and a districts choice is to assign permanent rotating subs to a classroom, or a TFA recruit. What is the worse of the two evils?

I'd put money on the fact that parents would prefer the permanent TFA recruit over rotating subs. Stability, even if just for a year, is a huge benefit.
Jet City mom said…
Teach for America is more like getting an emergency tracheotomy from a Stanford graduate who watched an episode of McGiver.
It was MacGyver I think but did you see MacGruber with Betty White?

I would like to see which schools use rotating subs & how we can at least get subs assigned to a building for a year.
& Why are we having so many substitutes?
Is it because the teachers are ill, or are they poorly suited for the job & quit too late in the year to find someone else?
dan dempsey said…

"There is no mention of Teach for America that does not eventually acknowledge that the program is predicated on the SPECIAL, SPECIAL people they recruit as corps members."

Thanks now I finally get it.

In situations like Seattle where there is no shortage and TFA has repeatedly shown they cannot improve student performance ... but usually produce worse results... It does not matter.... Because with TfA Students get to be exposed to Special People rather than just teachers.. and will surely be better for that exposure.

Thanks Charlie... I feel so much better now that I know the students will profit from TfA no matter whether TfA increases measurable student learning or not.
dan dempsey said…
Wait.... Why cannot all SPS students profit from exposure to the Special People ... Why is this exposure only available to some students in the less advantaged schools?

As TfA is all about growing their numbers ... shouldn't corporate donors fund placing a TfA in every classroom? Then no student will be at the disadvantage of having a Non-Special teacher.

RIF notices will be easier to determine... All current teachers can be RIFed. Only Coaches and TfA will be best.

Seattle home of the GATES Foundation can be on the leading edge of educational improvement. Seattle can be the first district not to be plagued by fully certified teachers instructing any of its students.

SPS can buy lots of hardware and software with the huge savings of paying all 5 week wonders at the lowest level on the salary schedule... YES that will be best for kids.... Right School Directors?

Seattle can show that Wisconsin Governor how to do this the right way.

De-Professionalizing teaching .... what a concept.
Charlie Mas said…
No one questions the value of Teach for America in those areas where schools cannot find enough certificated teachers. That's just not the case here.

I think Teach for America is wonderful and provides a valuable service in those communities than have no better option. Not in Seattle.
TFA, if you take the time to read their website, has moved far away from their primary goal. Their goal now is ever-greater expansion. That they gave one number when asking to be in the Puget Sound area and have another one in their sections on regions is troubling.

Their initial idea was noble and had merit. I think most of the people who go into TFA are good-hearted people who don't mind getting something out of it for themselves. But they have morphed into something else and as I said in another thread, boy, you would save money if you had more computerized learning and more TFA recruits monitoring the work rather than teaching it.
Chris S. said…
I heard some discussion of TFA and a Patu community meeting a few months ago. Apparently Rainier Beach does have trouble filling a science position. So OK, maybe we need ONE TFA recruit. But wait, the community does not want one, straight from the RBHS PTA leadership. So Peon, they do seem to prefer the subs they can get to TFA.
Charlie Mas said…
Will the new principal at Rainier Beach - or whoever does the hiring for next year - listen to the preferences of the RBHS PTSA?

It would not be a good start to the relationship if the brand new principal took a step that the PTSA specifically asked not be taken.
Anonymous said…
I will be speaking on the subject of TFA at the board meeting tonight.

Please come out in support.
StopTFA said…
Man! We thought OUR TFA agreement was crap! Look at this one. The Red Clay district must take all-comers or pay daily fines. The fee for these interns is $10K ea.

StopTFA said…
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