More Clarity from Latest UW/TFA E-Mails

There was another public disclosure drop of e-mails between UW and TFA and, like the previous ones, don't disappoint.   (Don't worry, there's even more to come - these people are busy.)  Boldface mine.

To whit:
  • In an e-mail between Dean Stritikus and various TFA staff, he says, "The state board is requiring all(sic) that all teacher ed programs in the state develop proposals (not implement) on of four alt paths to certification."  So THAT'S cleared up.  UW didn't have to implement anything; they chose to.  And they chose to serve the most narrow group they could find AND a group that consists of mostly out-of-state residents.  How does this further creating a better teaching corps for Washington State and a way for Washington State residents to be certified by the largest teaching college in the state?
  • In an e-mail between Karen Matheson in the UW Office of Institutional Research to Stritikus - "I confirmed with Patrick, and what our faculty says is that we don't have good enough data to say if there's a STEM teacher shortage and PESB (Professional Educators Standard Board) says there isn't one." 
  • In this batch of e-mails is where you see the real pushback from UW COE faculty.   Here's an excerpt of an e-mail (all in the same vein) from Manka Varghese to Ken Zeichner (faculty members):  Hope you don't mind me being frank and saying that I felt that there was not much space for people to hold divergent views of what the college should do with regards to the TFA conversation or even bring up some deeply problematic issues that arise wiht a TFA partnership.."  "Some of them include some of the elitism in TFA recruitment (they don't go to communities and recruit); TFA as part of a growing movement of the deprofessionalization of teachers, TFA being part of a larger political climate where private foundations and anti-union sentiments prevail."
  • In an interesting aside, UW had a Diversity Training in Feb.  Somehow, TFA was invited to give a seminar and here's how they described it:  "We will be presenting about the inequalities ino ur public education system which is one of the root causes for utter lack of diversity at the UW, a lack of diversity in professional fields, specifically in education, and an outlet for students of color to eliminate this problem through joining or supporting the efforts of TFA."  Quite the little propaganda machine and I'm sure the new UW President will like to hear that there is an "utter lack of diversity at UW."  
  • Trouble in paradise? Yes,  I think so.  You see the agreement between TFA and UW only covers year one's fees.  In year two it gets a bit more tricky (but still waiting for that info to come).  In an e-mail between Mary Lidstrom and Stritikus:   "This sounds like an important program and I know your commitment to TFA.  However, even during FY12 this revenue would be taxed at 30% just like all tuition revenue.  If you need startup/bridge funding to get this going, please talk with Paul Jenny about that, but you should plan on the 70% income as you work out your business plans."  I think that translates into a couple of things.  I have been told, repeatedly, that no, TFA is paying "fees" through the UW Educational Outreach program but sorry, in year two, they will be in COE's grad school which is tuition.  Two, what happens to that "revenue" that Stritikus is counting on should TFA recruits drop out (and they do)?
  • UW was sending out press releases on this program and got this e-mail back from Leslie Helm, the editor of Seattle Business Magazine:  "Just curious, could this kind of program be expanded to offer teaching certificates on an accelerated basis to people who have advanced degrees, for example, in math or the sciences, but now want to teach in a public high school?
  • More faculty unhappiness in an e-mail from Nancy Beadie to Stritikus:  "I left yesterday's meeting with concerns at each of these levels.  One, the College is actively aiding and abetting efforts to de-professionalize teaching, privatize schools, reserve or take jobs from qualified and experienced teachers including our own graduates, ensure that high needs schools have the most inexperienced and unprepared teachers,..."  two, that we do not adequately understand the implications of the TFA model for our particular context, in which there is not a teacher shortage or the consequences for our existing programs; three, that the practical consequences of making such a partnership work both externally and internally may be effectively to reduce our definition of good teacher education to what TFA specifies."  She goes on, "None of us, perhaps, knew exactly how the meeting would play out yesterday.  Nonetheless, as someone who was not privy to earlier discussions, I felt that the effect whether intended or not, was to make critical thought seem futile and unwelcome.  Since I found myself unable to find an opening for posing such issues within the context of the meeting, I do so here."  
  • Trying to address her concerns, Stritikus replies:  "Since we don't know empirically that TFA teachers are more or less prepared than other types of teachers, there remains a lot of room to figure out what it means to be a "professional" as a teacher, and that this partnership may be a critical opportunity to shape that debate in the country. "  Speaking to her feeling of not being able to give input, he says,"Noted, based upon my reflection of the meeting and review of notes, I'll continue to thnk about ways to ensure that we have faculty input."  He did this to the grad students at their meeting and now the faculty at this meeting; he knew exactly what he was doing - limiting the discussion.
  • Morva McDonald, one of the faculty directly responsible for the creation of the TFA program answers Ms. Beadie:  "I just wanted to clarify that I have not been engaged or consulted by Tom or anyone else directly involved in this decision -- the thinking behind it, or regarding the process."   Again, I think it interesting that Dean Stritikus seems to be a very strong figure in determining, almost by himself,  an important decision that affects literally thousands of lives.
  • There is discussion among the unhappy faculty about another meeting, this in an e-mail from Nancy Beadie to a couple of other faculty:  "Second, is what is the format/tenor of the meeting would really be and we role we play.  I guess I'm a little gun shy given the last meeting.  I am not interested in purposely being set up to be shot down.  Will there be an effort to make this a real conversation?"  She goes on, "One question I would add to your list is how or whether this fits with the professionalization of teaching.  A parallel  would be the med. school or law school promoting alternative certification for lawyers or surgeons."
  • Professor Beadie then said this in an e-mail to another faculty member:  "The overall effect, though, is to support a TFA partnership through the absence of any resistance."  She notes that other faculty, supportive of the partnership, seem to be jumping ahead of the discussion.  She also notes, "So far, however, no one has really talked through the calculations that would make the staffing of an additional program for a potentially small group of students at a guaranteed lower tuition rate pencil out.  Also, my sense is that there is a private funding 'problem' in the background."  Remember these issues of funding - I believe this may be the elephant in the room for UW going down the road.
  • The Dean, always thinking ahead, sent this e-mail to several COE faculty members:  "I don't immediately see the connection between partnering with TFA and the Faustian corporate bargain. The issues are too complex to be reduced to this.  Yes, I have made the argument that our philanthropic base could be alienate if we didn't partner with TFA..."  He goes on:  "One of our best donor prospects at the moment (for many places in the COE) is a large supporter of TFA.  He has indicated a willingness to help us fund raise to support a university-based residency program.  The same individual gave large sums of money to support the Gates, Sr. income tax initiative.  Is he an example of unfettered capitalism?"  Further, "I see no way to maintain our excellence without making decisions which consider the political realities of scrounging for the table scraps of the corporate elite."  
  • In an e-mail to a discouraged student, Professor John Bransford speaks up, "But I was truly shocked by the nature of the meeting which seemed to be a "successful" attempt to damped down and deflect questions rather than have an open discussion.  You all are a fabulous group - let this kind of adversity make you stronger."
  • Remember the district's "no one has to hire TFA" mantra?   Well, here's yet another example of "it's a done deal."  From the UW's information sheet on U-ACT (the alt cert progam moniker):  "TFA has secured placements for participants in Seattle and Federal Way school districts."   Note that word "secured" which is kind of like Wendy Kopp's "will be" that she stated in April on KUOW.  Walks like duck, quacks like a duck - it's a done deal.  
  • Also, remember the issue of tuition?  UW has been trying to shake that off saying it's "fee-based" and not tuition.  From the TFA/UW agreement under Budget:  "As students continue with their M.Ed. studies, i.e. the second year and beyond, they operate within the current tuition structure of the CoE M.Ed. programs.  Please see attached budget."  Sadly, I'm still waiting on the budget but yes, it's tuition.  Also, they budgeted for 35 students for the first year and 50 people in subsequent years.  
  • In a Q&A page over costs and logistics from Rosemary Sheffield:  "Who are the district-based professional developers and how do they get compensation?"  These are folks such as the STAR mentors - no compensation for them as they are already on the district payroll and have responsibilities for mentoring first year teachers."  Yes, and our STAR mentors will have their hands full with TFA teachers who have virtually no classroom experience.  There is also a question about TFA's attrition rate and UW doesn't seem to have this info.  I find this odd as TFA knows how many recruits drop out in their "training" and how many drop out in the first year of teaching.  Why they didn't give this info to UW is a mystery because it is critical to the budget to know how many people are likely to remain enrolled in the program.  
  • In an e-mail to TFA staff, faculty member Morva McDonald reiterates their unease with placing TFA recruits in Special ED/ELL: "We believe strongly that the SPED and ELL candidates need an initial year of trianing in content before being placed as teachers in such classroom environments."  If UW COE believes this and Special Ed parents believe this, will TFA and the district?  
  • Professor McDonald to someone at Stanford U:  "TFA has done a nice job of shifting their emphasis from providing high quality teachers in shortage areas/districts to just preparing high quality teachers."   She is quite right here; there aren't as many shortages as TFA would have you believe and for their program to expand, they need to be everywhere no matter what.  
  • In yet the same e-mail exchange as above, Professor McDonald says "Yes the landscape in Seattle is significantly different - there is no teacher shortage, it seems like Seattle won't guarantee placements for TFA but will allow them to compete for positions, however, word on the street is that Gates and maybe Brode(sp?) which the Superintendent is one of their fellows, is putting pressure on the district to allow them in.  
  • Seems that on June 1 of this year there was a "TFA Induction" at the Stanford Center.   Don't know what that is but why they would need to have one is a good question.
  • More third party involvement - the UW Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences wrote to Mike Bezos and cc'd to Jackie Bezos (Jeff Bezos of Amazon's parents):  "I talked to Tom Stritikus, our Dean of education and he is very positive about meeting together,  Turns out he's a graduate of TFA and the College is embarking on a very cool partnership with TFA that might just be the kind of transformative project you tend to be interested in."  This is fine and a good way to include outside sources but I wonder why she would believe an alt cert program would be transformative.  (She also tells him that a UW lecture is sold out "but for you, we can find tickets!") 
  • Another professor, Ken Zeichner (who believes I am obsessed with TFA but hey! Professor, I do have other interests than TFA - this blog proves that) wrote to Professor McDonald, "This letter is good except that I don't know that it is true that in SPS TFA teachers will compete with others on an even playing field.  In a meeting with TFA in the Dean's conference room, it was stated by a TFA staff member (I cannot recall which one) that SPS has guaranteed them a certain number of slots next year.  This would be accomplished of course (if it is true) by pressure put on principals behind the scenes to hire TFA teachers so that the district can meet its quota."   Not a big surprise but at least someone heard it said out loud by a TFA staffer in the Dean's office.  
  • What TFA got out of the University of Pennsylvania for TFA recruits in its program:  "Basically the students get a 20% discount on the courses if they are Master's students and they take 10 courses over 2 years.  Certification only students take 7 courses and pay $1200 (it's actually free because of their Americorps grants).  We also buy all the books and readings for the students.  We feed them on the weekends (when they are taking classes)."  

 So there you have it.  It appears that:
  • the program at UW's COE was pretty much shoved down the throats of the faculty there with minimal discussion or input; ditto on the students
  • no matter WHAT the district says - TFA is a done deal for our district this fall.  I pity the principals but they are helpless against this pressure which I'm sure is great.  
  • there are real money issues for UW and it's not entirely clear that this isn't going to end up costing UW money.  I have a feel that TFA will end up creating its own on-line certificate program and ditch these university partners.  I stand by my position that TFA recruits will pay tuition and likely it will be much less than if they were COE grad students.  
  • TFA has real expectations from both the districts and the universities.  Their goal?  To pay as little as possible and let the other entities pick up the costs.  


    Anonymous said…
    More BS from Stritikus. He's starting to sound a littled panicked. He can't handle student or faculty dissension, it seems.
    Here's an NAU professor who has amassed enough research to write a book on TFA.

    "When Barbara Veltri talks about education reform in America, she speaks with unvarnished urgency and does not flinch at being called an advocate. While her motivation is inequity in education—what she calls “the civil rights issue of our time”—the focus of her research and her criticism is an organization known as Teach for America.

    Veltri insists she is not on a mission to disband Teach for America. Instead, she is on a mission to change it.

    “The program is not working the way it’s supposed to be working,” Veltri said. "

    SPSLeaks said…
    For these emails and more fun reading, visit:

    Dorothy Neville said…
    Mel, did you get the email where Morva talks about turning down another job offer? Tom Stritikus offered her a 10% raise to stay (and head the TfA U-ACT program).

    Ten percent raise at UW? How many other professors got 10% raises this past Winter? Where do you think that money came from?
    Yes,I saw that one and the one where Stritikus is offered another job himself.
    Anonymous said…
    Susan Enfield is the one who could get rid of this experiment on children. Instead, in her typical-political M.O., she is promoting and backing TFA entirely.

    This is while she is talking about holding principals accountable for the achievement gap (as in the Floe fiasco).

    Is she going to hold principals accountable when she sneaks TFA through the back door(as the email post assured would happen)? All we need is a new superintendent who is not a hypocrite and who truly cares about the most vulnerable students.

    --If Enfield goes, then TFA goes.
    If Enfield stays, TFA is here to stay.
    Name said…
    I'm surprised they didnt start emailing from secret accounts to ward off future disclosures.
    Times says yes said…
    Check out today's Seattle Times:
    StopTFA said…
    Something else for you to obsess over Melissa. From the PESB Twitter Feed:

    "Noah Zeichner, National Board Certified Teacher from Chief Sealth High School in Seattle appointed to the PESB by Governor Gregoire."

    First, who the hell follows PESB on Twitter? And second, gee will Noah recuse himself when his dad's employer is up for review? Saw this on the UW COE's webpage.

    "Noah Zeichner, alumnus of the College of Education, has been awarded the the Philip B. Swain Excellence in Education Award. This award is given annually by the Alliance for Education. Zeichner is currently a teacher at Chief Sealth International High School."

    I wonder where his sympathies lie.
    dan dempsey said…
    Oh yes this certainly makes the School Directors' approval of TfA appear to be motivated by a wish to ride the corporate steamroller ....

    I am sure that many of the politicians like Rueven Carlyle, Scott White etc. will keep on recommending and endorsing current board members like Peter Maier. Keep those campaign donations coming.

    "The Dean, always thinking ahead, sent this e-mail to several COE faculty members: "I don't immediately see the connection between partnering with TFA and the Faustian corporate bargain. The issues are too complex to be reduced to this. Yes, I have made the argument that our philanthropic base could be alienate if we didn't partner with TFA..." He goes on: "One of our best donor prospects at the moment (for many places in the COE) is a large supporter of TFA. He has indicated a willingness to help us fund raise to support a university-based residency program. The same individual gave large sums of money to support the Gates, Sr. income tax initiative. Is he an example of unfettered capitalism?" Further, "I see no way to maintain our excellence without making decisions which consider the political realities of scrounging for the table scraps of the corporate elite."

    ... What a great lesson in evidence based decision making. ... thanks for teaching us CoE Dean Tom S.
    StopTFA said…
    "...a large supporter..." of TFA. This is the Dean of the UW College of Education (and a large legend in his own mind).
    dan dempsey said…
    This type of decision making can be extended to most of the decisions made by the four directors running for reelection ...

    Yes, .... the argument that our philanthropic base could be alienated if we didn't partner with ... with damn near anything the corporate masters want rubber-stamped.


    Community engagement neither needed or wanted ... for rubber-stamping approvals.
    StopTFA said…
    The Professional Educators Standards Board has failed in its duty to review the University of Washington's teacher preparation program, U-ACT, for conformity with RCW 28A.660.040(4). U-ACT clearly does not meet the requirements for an alternative route four program for the following reasons:
    1. U-ACT does not last one year once candidates enter the official pathway. It starts in late September and ends in June.
    2. U-ACT does not include an intensive summer teaching academy. Again, because it starts in late September and ends in June.
    3. Teach for America (TFA) members ARE NOT enrolled in U-ACT while they are attending the TFA summer academy, as they have not met alternative route four pathway entry requirements in the RCW, namely: a) they are not employed by a district at the time of application; b) they do not hold a conditional certificate; and c) they have not passed the requisite examinations in the statute.
    4. According to PESB staff, the UW cannot count the period while a potential or "pre-alt-rte" candidate prepares to enter the pathway.

    The state attorney generals office must complete a legal review of both the conflicts of interest and the regulators' shoddy review of the UW's U-ACT/TFA program. I'm sure they'll be objective even if Dean Stritikus says he has buddies in high places that'll help "push things through."
    Anonymous said…
    Read the Times comments. Some of the links posted I have no problem with. It's simply the back and forth of doing business on a deal the big boss (the Dean) clearly wants to happen. But some other posts really do seem troubling, especially the nods and winks about TFA will get its placements via plausible denial of principal pressure. It makes the conspiracy theorists look pretty smart in actuality.

    I also don't like the appearance that the Dean was busy placating, instead of truly considering an alternative viewpoint as to whether this is a well thought out partnership.

    Anonymous said…
    Conspiracy theorists?! I resemble that remark!

    CT said…
    How is the UW going to afford to hire and pay a program coordinator they mention for the Teach-For-Awhile kiddies? Or will Bill Gates be paying for that person too?
    StopTFA said…
    Well, the UW Extension Outreach will "float" the program with its risk pool. The 35 (yeah right, the number keeps shrinking) TFAers will pay a total of $400K in fees (presuming they stay the full year). Lessee, that's supposed to pay for one program coordinator and four team leads, benefits and overhead.

    Then again, there is that "large supporter"...

    I see that someone posted this link on the Times editorial comments:

    Wow Harium you won't feel so alone anymore. And that hiring pool for math/science teachers just grew by one. Tremendous.
    uxolo said…
    Incredible - 15 of the TfA applicants are from UW. Almost comical how these applicants are supposedly Ivy League: DeVry??

    You must see this link and the other referred to by StopTFA:
    Dorothy Neville said…
    Uxolo, yes, 15 of the TfA CM (that's TfA shorthand for corps members which is their term for their astonishingly great elite college grads) that TfA determined would be placed in Seattle are from UW.

    Is it a coincidence that along with opening up a Puget Sound operation and getting UW to create a certification program just for TfA, UW suddenly and wonderfully moves from 40th to 8th place in numbers of accepted CM?

    For the 2011 TfA corps: 477 UW students applied.

    86 UW students were accepted in TfA, bringing UW from 40th to 8th place in the country for numbers of students accepted.

    30 of these students are considered low income per Pell Grant. This makes UW rank 6th.

    37 are people of color, this makes UW rank 7th. (note this includes Asian, don't expect a lot of African Americans in this cohort)
    But Justin Yan of TFA did a seminar during UW's diversity week saying UW is "utterly devoid of diversity." How is it that TFA is finding all this diversity at UW's campus?
    StopTFA said…
    Stritikus robs Peter to pay Paul. They don't even have enough students willing to pay inflated tuition, let alone lose them to TFA and the taxpayers' largesse. TFA's big UW recruitment push

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