TFA and Apple - What Happened?

 Thanks to Mirmac 1 for this update.

The Daily Kos had a story about one woman's story about Apple's program to have customers donate old iPads to TFA teachers.  Her story of getting passed around at Apple corporate reminds me of my efforts to figure this out.  From the story:

After being passed around on the phone from one corporate office to another, I finally asked Jerry in marketing if Apple knew that Teach for America recruits weren't really teachers -- that their claim of "Teach for America takes well-trained teachers—referred to as "corps  members"— was completely false, and that the campaign was deceptive.  I said it would be great if Apple  were offering donated iPads to real teachers, but the company is misleading donors when it tells them their donation will go to a Teach for America "teacher."

The marketing guy then said this.  "We paint with a broad brush when we use the term teacher."  He said he considered himself a teacher because he taught people stuff sometimes.  I asked him if he had studied to become a teacher or if he had ever taught in a classroom.  He said "no."  Then you are not a professional teacher I said.  I went on to say I thought the campaign was a fraud and that Apple was giving legitimacy to an organization proven to do real harm to children.  He said my complaint would be noted.

She goes on to note that Seattle's Parents Across America was the first group to actively protest.  She goes on to say that Portland was next but then something curious happened:

I spent the past few days being passed around to from one Apple corporate office to another trying to get more information about the campaign. I asked specifically how long the TFA displays would be up and was told through September. I was told repeatedly by Apple that the TFA campaign was an ongoing thing and would continue as long as people wanted to give up their iPads.  I also investigated the legalities of having a protest at the mall. Imagine my surprise when I went to the mall to talk to the appropriate contact about our protest and noticed the entire display had been removed.

So I asked a Genius why the display had been taken down.  He didn't know.  He said usually they are told beforehand when one campaign ends and another begins, but they had just come to work and the display was gone. He tried to access information on the internet and got this -- access denied:  The campaign main page still exists here but all the supporting information about the program has been removed.

What's interesting is that all the info on this program on both TFA's and Apple's websites is now gone.  Not even a campaign page at Apple.

I have no idea why Apple ended this so abruptly.

Maybe it was the issue that Apple could have cut out the middleman and just donated used iPads to their local schools (and not temporary TFA teachers).

Maybe it was the issue that only TFA teachers and no other teachers could be part of this program.  (It did make it look like Apple favored one kind of teacher over another.  Not a good business practice.)

Good for you, Apple.

One funny item is that I was looking around about info on this and found this at a New Orleans TFA teacher blog about the Apple program:

It is amazing to have a company support us in such a major way. So even though I don’t have a copy machine, or books for my kids, or enough pencils to go around… We will have an i-Pad!!!!!

Not enough book or even pencils for the kids but there's an iPad in the classroom.

I also found this:

Teach For America corps members are among the teachers guilty of cheating in Atlanta schools.  Three teachers confessed and it seems there are others who may be identified.  Kwame Griffith, the Executive Director of Teach For America Atlanta called the teachers' actions "unacceptable."

That's unfortunate for ALL the teachers involved, especially the "best and the brightest."


Charlie Mas said…
It all makes sense to me.

Apple would only be interested in this if it reflected positively on them. With the protest in Seattle (which got national media attention) the campaign actually reflected negatively on Apple, so they stopped it.

A lot of people who aren't deeply involved think only positively about Teach for America because they only hear about it from TfA's own publicity machine. When you only hear one side of a story you may not realize that there are other perspectives.
peonypower said…
I can say the Apple workers at the UW store were mighty uncomfortable with the picket back in August in Seattle. They could not answer basic questions about who got what, when, and for how long. They didn't even really know what TFA was. They were polite but were clueless.

Outside the store were a few TFA alum there to engage and distract us from talking to customers. I'm sure the the signal had gone out to show up and mitigate any bad press that TFA might get as a result of the TFA/Apple deal. After talking to a couple of them I have to say that I was unimpressed with their arguments for TFA, and that anyone who says they are for community and schools who leaves teaching after just a few years to lobby has no credibility with me or the teachers I know who spend day in and day out year after year in the trenches working to help all students. I can't take "their commitment to education" seriously because they haven't really committed.

Maybe Apple is just donating straight to TFA. Maybe they got a clue. Either way the whole campaign was misleading and deceptive.
Anonymous said…
"He said he considered himself a teacher because he taught people stuff sometimes."

Cool. I consider myself a brain surgeon because I once put a bandaid on a kid's finger.

Didn't need med school. Didn't need a license. See how easy it all is!

(I think the Apple guy needs a real teacher to teach him some logic.)

Chris S. said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris S. said…
Hey, just watched the TFA troll video. Some have criticized the teachers for being hard on this "just a mom." Well, this woman has worked for Stand For Children and may still be on the payroll. She did NOT just happen by while shopping. And Stand For Children, well, we know all about them. Anti-tax reform = anti-public education funding period.
somesone said…
Don't forget there is a very direct link (and no doubt powerful) between Apple and TFA in that Steve Jobs' wife is on the board of TFA. I'm sure that had innfluence on both the start and stop of this little adventure for Apple
someone said…
Ah and one more personal link - Walter Isaacson, the Chair of the TFA Board just also happens to have been selected by Jobs to write his biography - it all comes down to relationships on so many of these type of programs.
Someone said, amazing link. All part of the secret handshake club.
dan dempsey said…
Norm Rice certainly knows the secret handshake.
Anonymous said…
Political Math Set Theory.

There is the Set Of Kopp Kipp Kriminals at the top pulling the $tring$ so they can live high on the hog. One thing which enables their venality and their marketing is that they actually do some good in some places some times.

You have to ... admire?... what they've done with this concept of "Not For Profit." Wendy & her hubby do not get to live as well as Wendy's Princeton cla$$mate$ in Manhattan, working on this place called Wall street. By the measures of Wall Street, Wendy & Hubby $ure are $acrificing. However, Look up Wendy's pay on the TFA 990s through Guidestar, and how does the Kopp - Kipp household income compare to the other bottom 98% of America? The set of $tring puller$ are doing a.o.k.

The next Set of players are the masters of doublethink doing the $tring pullers bidding. IF you dig around in the backgrounds of these 2 sets, you'll find all kind$ of common $ocail cla$$ experience$, and now that TFA has tens of millions a year to spend, TFA can keep the $ocial cla$$ of string pullers and double thinkers living the life$tyle$ they're accustomed to.

Not only are 'the rich different from you and me', these 2 sets of aspiring rich are different from you and me.

Another key set of players are those toady underlings aspiring to break into the first 2 sets. For example, the muscle who spend their time attacking those who call out the baloney.

A final set of key players is the huge horde of people who work hard, and who try hard, and who aren't aspiring toadies, and who are trying to do something decent. Sadly, their good natures are being taken advantage of by the first 3 sets so the Kopp Kipp Kriminals can be different from you and me.

Oh, by the way - a few decent things happen to happen along the way.

inner party
peonypower said…
well put inner party
Joseph said…
Talking about the teaching scandal in Atlanta - did you know that MGJ and the Superintendent in Atlanta in charge at the time of the scandal worked together during MGJ's tenure at Seattle? Birds of a feather......
dan dempsey said…
So check this out in the NY Times.

Teaching as a Second, or Even Third, Career

So is TfA needed in Seattle?
Of course NOT.

What is needed is a major overhaul in Teacher preparation programs .... where instructional strategies would be based on evidence of success rather than alignment with the current failing ideologies of instruction that Club Ed Elites prefer.
Thanks, Dan. Good article.

What saddens me is that the largest university in our state (and the best) didn't have an alt certificate program. When they finally chose one, they created it for only one group of people - TFA recruits.

Besides the number of qualified teachers we have already, many others would like to qualify and a state university alt program is often much cheaper than a private university alt program. But UW didn't give them that option.

That's why President Young should rethink this whole thing and ask himself why Dean Stritikus pushed so hard on an alt cert program open to a very small group of people.

Even the "best and brightest" at UW can't get in if they don't get into TFA first.

How does this help people already in our state who want to teach as a second career? These are people who are mature and committed to a second career as a teacher.

Very odd.
Tired of the Bullsh!t said…
When I had the epiphany that I loved working with young people and wanted to become a professional teacher, I was finishing up a Master's degree at the University of Washington.

I made an appointment with a representative of the UW School of Education, and went in to see how their program met my needs. I was told in no uncertain terms that there was only one way--their way--and that any thought of deviating from the program meant I should be looking elsewhere.

Furthermore, they wanted me to take a full year of courses in my endorsement area (the area where I was finishing a Master's degree) before they'd let me in, because when I was an undergraduate I hadn't taken THEIR version of the classes!

Yet furthermore, I would have had to pay graduate tuition for two years to get another (superfluous) Master's degree--because their way is the only way.

Western Washington University, on the other hand, took one look at the Master's degree on my transcript, declared my endorsement coursework done, and designed a certificate-ony program around my needs. I paid undergraduate tuition and was able to finish in only one year. On the downside, I had to commute from my home in the Seattle area to classes in Bellingham on a daily basis, but it was worth it to finish and get into my classroom that much sooner!

Had something like U-ACT been available--AND OPEN TO ANYONE--back then, I'd have been all over it. Way back then when I was young and invincible I considered myself to be one of the "best and brightest", too. (Nowadays, I'm happy to be accounted as one of the pretty good and fairly bright.)

The problem is...not the U-ACT program is available--but it's NOT available to everyone! Someone from OUTSIDE the UW gets to determine who gets into UW's program. THAT is WRONG on SO MANY LEVELS!!!!

The traditional certification route isn't for everyone. I went through about as non-traditional a traditional program as we could make it, and I certainly would have taken advantage of an alternative if one fit. As an educator, I support having some well thought out alternative certification paths for folks who truly have a unique skill set from which our students can benefit. However, being young and invincible does not qualify as such a skill set.

The fact that there is a sham of an alternative certification program such as U-ACT: one essentially run by an outside organization that only serves to deprofessionalize teaching makes me furious beyond capacity for rational thought.
dan dempsey said…
Yes... U-ACT: ..... serves to deprofessionalize teaching.

Any program that pretends that 5 weeks training makes one ready to teach on day one .... is in NO way a credible program.

The School Board is incredibly incompetent, if they actually believe that TfA will be a benefit to educationally disadvantaged learners and their schools over the long haul. Such a view is simply unbelievable.

The District put forth on Nov. 12, 2010 under "Community Engagement" ....
only the efforts by TfA to sell itself to the following groups:
Alliance for Education, League of Education Voters, League of Women Voters, Stand for Children, the Washington Policy Center, Partnership for Learning, the Technology Alliance, and the STEM Center. ...and.... connected with representatives from PTSA, Seattle Education Association and the Washington Education Association. TfA will be meeting with other community representatives in the coming weeks, including leadership from Campaña Quetzal, the Urban League, and El Centro de le Raza.

Clearly there is rarely any effort on the part of the District for two way communication on any issue. .... Community Engagement is a meaningless concept to this District.

Yet the Board is being asked to claim that: the District has performed a careful review of all other options for closing the achievement gaps.

Get ready for the next fraudulent act on 9-21-11 by the $500,000 four, currently seeking reelection.
Anonymous said…
I had the exact same experience as tired of BS with UW. I decided to become a certified teacher back in 2002. I already had a MS in science and environmental education, and experience teaching in museums, zoos, and community colleges. I also had experience working with community college students with learning and other disabilities through disability support services. The person at UW told me that the other way to get a teaching certification through them was to get another master's degree. I found another program that had more flexibility. I'm sorry to learn that UW is still so rigid.

Anonymous said…
Sorrel at 9/18/11 9:36 AM,

When I applied in the summer of 2003 when I was 43, the called me on my cell. The questions were something you'd ask 23 year olds, not someone who graduated at age 37 with a Math B.A. The questions were asked in a tone which signaled to me that I should be grovelling for the privilege of picking up 40 or 50 grand in debt, and my MIT.

While the TFA "training" is indefensible, my gut told me back then that the programs to get certified to teach math weren't going to be a lot of use in the realities for the bottom 90% of kids in K-12. I wish I had been proven wrong.

I've been scratching my head - how did Stritkus pull off this TFA coup with all these tenured professor people? After the posts of Tired... Sorrel, Tom's coup now makes "sense".

He blind sided a faculty of the pompous, over confident and complacent. They haven't really fought back because they're scared, and they're hoping they don't end up unemployed, and they're riding the wave till Tom Terrific gets the next plum job, and then they can go back to making people beg, the way it should be.

Maybe they all deserve each other.

A plague on both your houses.
StopTFA said…
I want to point out that the PESB's teacher preparation program webpage lists all approved schools and all areas, including certificate only. The UW is NOT the only game in town. There are a number of Alt rte 3 programs that provide a certificate after one year of mentored internship (sorry, no bogus "teacher of records" with five weeks training). There are also alt rte 4 programs with bonafide courses for mid-career professionals or individuals already teaching under a conditional certs. As public records show, the UW is a hot mess with cowardly faculty, and a corrupted administration. The grad school apparently feels the COE should simply be observed by the CA&S because teaching is ancillary to everything else.
"He blind sided a faculty of the pompous, over confident and complacent. They haven't really fought back because they're scared, and they're hoping they don't end up unemployed, and they're riding the wave till Tom Terrific gets the next plum job, and then they can go back to making people beg, the way it should be."

I believe much of that is a great summary of what happened. I do know there were faculty who tried to even raise some issues and got shut down. Why they allowed themselves to be man-handled that way, I don't know. You may have it right that they are worried about their jobs.

I do know the majority of them DO care deeply about teachers and teaching but somehow the program doesn't always bear that out.
CT said…
Once upon a time I considered UW for my teaching certificate and Masters when I moved here from another state and found out just how much work it was going to be to get my existing certificate and coursework to count in WA. After meeting with them, WWU, Seattle U, and UPS, UW was first off my list. WWU looked good but the commute was not going to be pretty, plus it would have been 1 semester longer than UPS and SU, though I would have had ended up with my elementary special ed endorsement as well. Ultimately I went with UPS, and aside from my hefty student loan bill, have never regretted it.
apparent said…
As Tired points out: “The problem is...not the U-ACT program is available--but it's NOT available to everyone! Someone from OUTSIDE the UW gets to determine who gets into UW's program. THAT is WRONG on SO MANY LEVELS!!!!”

Is one such level the university's compliance with its governing Washington State statutes? There is an entire office of the state Attorney General on campus in the Gerberding Hall administration building devoted to interpreting and applying these very codes.

Has anybody ever inquired whether a UW faculty can simply delegate the entire admissions process, for one of this public university's academic diplomas, to a purely external private selection body?
StopTFA said…
Ugh, that's "absorbed" not "observed"...
Concerned South Seattle Citizen said…
SPS data from the evaluations this past year show that over 100 teachers rated at 'basic'. Those are teachers who aren't facing public scrutiny but are also not in danger of losing their privilege of being a classroom teacher. We have a small number of TFA corps members in the Puget Sound area who desperately want to teach, to improve, and to prove to those who doubt them that they can be great teachers. Given that the teacher in the first scenario and the typical TFA teacher are both 'basic', who would you rather have teaching your kids? Someone who is there to punch a clock, or someone who has a tremendous desire to improve and do what is right by their students? If you are so concerned with yourselves and this mission to resist any type of change (seriously, most of you hate on just about everything) rather than finding ways to strengthen the teaching pool however we can, you should rethink how you are choosing to spend your time. What are you trying to protect here? We are failing a lot of kids in the system with what we have.
Anonymous said…
I'm not thrilled with "basic" but I'll take it over pre-preliminary any day.

By the way, activists and haters are very separate. Haters spew vile in a most generic way (as in, "most of you hate" etc.) while activists work for change by doing the trenchwork.

--if the shoe fits, wear it
Concerned South Seattle Citizen said…

Do you deny the vituperation on this blog? The cyber bullying, selective reporting and conjecture, slander and trolls with overactive self-importance? Have you been in schools outside of those of your kids? Have you been a teacher? Have you met any TFA teachers? What are you basing your assertions on? Who ARE you?
Anonymous said…
Vituperative:bitter and abusive according to Merriam-Webster's definition. Some folks are one note bloggers. If I were you South Seattle Citizen, I just skipp over any posting with TFA. Saves time, but

-Thanks for teaching me a new word.
"Given that the teacher in the first scenario and the typical TFA teacher are both 'basic', who would you rather have teaching your kids?"

My pick would be get rid of the poor performing teacher AND pick from the very deep pool of unemployed, full-qualified teachers. Not a 5-week trained teacher. That would be my choice.

Okay, so who is cyber-bullying? We are an opinionated group here but there's no bullying going on.

Charlie and I do our best to cover meetings etc and give the basics and our editorial opinion and our readers know that.

If Charlie and I had libeled someone (the correct term here because libel is written words and slander is spoken words), I'm sure someone would have sued us by now.

I have been in many, many schools in every corner of this district. So yes to that.

Been a teacher? Nope but you don't have to be a teacher to have an opinion on education.

I have met TFA teachers (as I have previously reported in other threads). They are very nice and sincere people.

My assertions are based on research like talking to TFA people, reading the interesting e-mails from UW's COE, e-mails between the district and TFA, etc. I feel pretty well versed in TFA, frankly.

I think most people know me but I'll introduce myself since you seem new.

I'm Melissa Westbrook and I am a long-time education activist and advocate in Seattle. I have proudly graduated two children from SPS. I served on the School Board's Closure and Consolidation committee in 2006. I have served a myriad of roles in PTSAs in 4 schools including co-president. I was awarded a Golden Acorn for my PTA service. I write for the Save Seattle Schools blog.

And you are?
CT said…
Concerned South Seattle Citizen -

Do you know what the evaluation criteria is? Do you know the culture of the building these "basic" teachers come from? There are many principals who want to clean house of those they feel threaten their authority or might stand in their way through questioning decisions, bringing up different viewpoints, or because they advocate for their students rather than just knuckling under, and use the evaluation process to get their way - by labeling them basic. Other times, you might have someone who was moved from 1st grade to 5th grade, or middle school to ES level - or even just to a new building - and has a bit of a rough year adjusting. And yes, there are generally a few teachers who aren't making it - in which case it is the principal's job to either provide the proper instructional supports to improve the issues, or document properly so the teacher can be let go. However, I can say with certainty that there are plenty of good certificated teachers already out there that I'd rather have than a 5 week trainee who will be experimenting on the children who need that the least. I have sat in on interviews in which all the candidates were good and we hwd a hard time deciding, and I have had (and met) some fabulous subs. Perhaps TFA does great work in places like Texas or Detroit, but here? They are not necessary.
mirmac1 said…
100 rated "basic" you say. Given there are four levels "unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and innovative", and there are over over 2,650 teacher in the district, that's only 4% that are "basic". Maybe the remainder below the 50th percentile are all "unsatisfactory"? Doubt it. (CSSC, do you have those numbers?) Or the principals are doing inadequate evaluations? Either way, I like my odds with well-trained, enthusiastic teachers who plan on sticking around after two years....
That Passionate Teacher said…
Dear CSSC,

What are the odds that many of the 100+ that were rated "basic" are still in their first couple of years of teaching...when any of us are/were still "basic"?

I'd say the odds are probably good.

So...I pose a follow-up question:

If both are "basic", which would you rather have for your child? Someone who dedicated themself to going through a rigorous teacher preparation program and is in it to make it a career? Someone who will dedicate themself to improving year after year?


Someone who took only a five-week crash course and is only willing to make a two year commitment before they head off to cash in?

Because that is what the vast majority of TFA corps members do. They stay for their two year minimum, then head off to their next big thing. Granted, not every one, but the vast majority.

The data does not lie.
Anonymous said…
TFA = churn and constant turnover of teachers every 2 to 3 years, guaranteed, built-in, by design. Where is Crissy Coxon, TFA's poster child in Seattle? Gone off to the private sector. And what's to become of her fabled "Stanford class of 2023?" Good luck with that kids!

This is TFA. They may be great people, but not for the long haul. They jump ship before the real, sustainable, hard work of teaching everyday in the real world, while raising a family, running a household, etc. sets in.

TFA is not reality. That's why is seems so great. Load test it with real life, and it crumbles to dust.

It's all about getting former TFA folks out of the classrooms and into the positions of power within districts, think-tanks, and lobbying organizations in order to get their hands on the reigns of power over public education because they plainly and simply think they are better, more intelligent, and more competent than John Doe citizen.

Wise up America. WSDWG
blurrry said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
blurrry said…
OK, I've been following this blog for awhile now as a parent of a second grader in the Seattle Public Schools. I find to my surprise that I have something to post on the subject of Apple iPads for TFA. I just discovered an article posted this afternoon on the AppleInsider blog, "Apple ships thousands of donated iPads to America's poorest schools". It turns out that Steve Jobs' wife Laurene Powell sits on the board of directors of the Teach for America program. Check it out.

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