Why TFA is Dangerous for Our District (or any other)

Lastly, on this latest batch of e-mails were two interesting ones from the e-mail of Maria Goodloe-Johnson. One is frightening and the other is a bit of schadenfrueden for our pal, Michelle Rhee.

In June of 2010, Dr. Goodloe-Johnson wrote Wendy Kopp, the head of TFA, for advice on someone to head SPS's Human Resources department.

Wendy wrote back inquiring:
…whether you might be open to considering candidates who may not fit the traditional requirements/profile ( e.g. not necessarily 10 years of HR-type exp) since many of our strong leaders have not had the most traditional paths but may be interested and compelling candidates for a role like this one.

We are absolutely interested in non-tradional candidates.  You have also prompted me to think about revising the 10 years and adding strategic thinking and transformative leadership as required qualifications.

One more thing - - we were talking with a high-potential TFA alum in WA state about this and before he throws his hat in the ring he wanted to understand whether this is a mostly classic human resources role or whether you’re looking for a chief talent officer to truly rethink teacher recruitment, selection, evaluation, development, etc. 

Absolutely a CTO to rethink HOUR reporting to me, hoping to get a TIF grant.

So thought I’d float the idea of Greg Wong.   She continues “he’s a high-potential alum in the Seattle area who we believe can have a significant impact in education over time.  He is currently an associate at K&L Gates law firm there. 

Greg has told us that, although he is not been actively job searching, he’s interested in hearing more about the role if you are interested.  He hadppened to see  some of your staff members – Susan and Holly – at a committee meeting yesterday and brified discussed the role with them.

I am familiar with his name.  Please link him on to Don.

Not sure he's ready to apply but I think just think he’s someone who might be worth trying to recruit into a senior-level strategic role at some point. 

When a district signs on to TFA, they are enabled to place job opportunities on TFA's website as well as look at resumes.  And this is how they manage to get more and more former TFAers into districts.  Even for people who don't have backgrounds in whatever departments they are applying for, the mere fact that they have the TFA stamp of approval and are "leaders", makes them qualified for ANY job in any district.

Would SPS do this for ANY candidate?  This waiving of qualification requirements?  Wendy Kopp puts out this vision of not just an HR person but a person to "rethink" teacher qualifications? First of all, HR is not just hiring teachers.  Is there some litmus test for someone other than teachers? What questions would Mr. Wong, if hired, have asked other prospective hires to make sure they meet the TFA test?

Mr. Wong either didn't apply or didn't get the job but he's not the head of HR.  

That Dr. Goodloe-Johnson thought this a good idea, that she allowed herself to be talked into "transformative leadership" over real qualifications - it's frightening.  And, given how truly into TFA Dr. Enfield is, I have to wonder about what guidance SHE will give our new HR head, Paul Apostle.  

Now the amusing.  Here's what the former deputy mayor of D.C. had to say in a group e-mail that included MGJ after the mayor of D.C. was defeated (bold mine):

Alas, no dice; DC’s Mayor lost reelection last night. 

There will be a lot of doomsday scenarios for ed reform in DC and write large, but it will be greatly exaggerated.  To the extent that we’ve created an ed reform monster in DC that has consumed too much of the ed reform oxygen, I apologize.  I’ve no doubt the ed reform envelope will continue to be pushed by folks like you.

I’m going to do my best to stay optimistic about DC.  (Lord knows lots of people were scratching their heads when a newly elected 35 year Mayor w/o a legislative record and his Latino MIT MBA deputy mayor rolled out a Korean-American teacher chick as their pick for Chancellor).

A Korean-American chick.  Priceless.


mirmac1 said…
Cripes! Like we need more "senior-level strategic" types! Why don't we just pour money down a rathole. At least the rats are readily recognizable.
RosieReader said…
I'm not sure it's wise, or kind, to have included the name of the person who was proposed. It sounds like someone was pushing his name forward, he didn't put his hat in the ring. it's never good for a person in their current job to have someone suggest, even incorrectly, that you might be interested in making a move.

Of course one has a "right" to publish it. In this case, though, I'd suggest you eliminate the name.
StopTFA said…
This fellow's name comes up in other emails. He runs interference for TFA at the state regulatory level, chatting up the staff at PESB on TFA's behalf. He uses his work email so I assume he's getting paid to lobby for his alma mater.
RosieReader said…
StopTFA, While that's interesting, I'm not sure what is has to do with the issue of outing someone who is a potential candidate for a job. Certainly, there are circumstances where disclosing his name wouldn't be a problem. In this context, discretion seems like the better part of valor.
Charlie Mas said…
Greg Wong also filed as a candidate for School Board in District VII. He soon withdrew without actively campaigning.

Greg Wong has run interference for various Education Reform groups and has done work for SchoolsFirst!
Sahila said…
any time there is slyness happening amongst the ed deformers - and I dont think there is any rational person in Seattle now, who could say there is none, then I think its perfectly wise, sensible, fair, truthful etc for all the players to be named.... and Wong's name has come up in several ed deform arena's already...

surely we would want to know if more Broadie Toadies were being placed in the upper echelons of the district?

Why is this any different?
StopTFA said…
And, honestly, if her highness Wendy Kopp's out beating the bushes for you, ya gotta take the bad with the good. Where was she when I was negotiating the career ladder? Oh yeah, in elementary school.
If you read the e-mail, Rosie, he brought it up with a couple of School Board members. He obviously was considering it.

He is fairly well known as someone who advocates for education and knew Wendy Kopp put his name forth. I didn't "out" him; I quoted the entire e-mail.
If you read the e-mail, Rosie, he brought it up with a couple of School Board members. He obviously was considering it.

He is fairly well known as someone who advocates for education and knew Wendy Kopp put his name forth. I didn't "out" him; I quoted the entire e-mail.
Jan said…
I sort of agree with RosieReader here. It isn't that Greg Wong is not a grown up who is well into the "fray" that is educational debate, and for all I know, he couldn't care less -- but the email exchange was not by him, he did not invite or cause it, and even if he spoke to a few people at the District -- it seems a little too much- I don't know exactly how to put it. I think that the post would have been just as powerful, and perhaps a little more discerning and discreet, if Greg's name had been redacted from it.
LaCrese Green said…
What about our Sup, a highly distinguished, professional doctor, as some called her, to be accepting from the high class mud-slinging smut?

What else is "A Korean-American Chic" supposed to mean if not something derogatory?
Tingurro said…
I don't know, LaCrese. Korean-American is certainly not a derogative term in any way. And lots of women consider themselves "chics" (or "chicks" -- as a sort of code for "youthful, assertive, unafraid, bold women." Now mind you -- I am not a chick, if ever I was. There are lots of derogatory terms for women (broads, harridans, shrews, gold diggers, -- and of course many worse) but I read that comment simply as a statement that in hiring someone younger, fairly outspoken, and ethnically diverse -- they had gone outside the "mold" of what might have been expected for the D.C. Chancellor position.

All that said -- I am no fan of Rhee, am glad she is gone, and only wish her departure had somehow rendered her less capable of continuing to destroy the American education system.

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