TFA: Troubled Waters in Seattle

I had been waiting for this story to come out.  It's just what I thought because it is the reality of TFA in the Puget Sound region.  No real success at all.  Districts?  Just not interested or finding plenty of fully-qualified teachers right here in Washington State. 

From Non-Profit Quarterly:

Maldonado was also feeling the conflict, but also noted that TFA’s national office had stumbled in dealing with the challenges in Seattle. Maldonado said that “TFA just hadn’t done the research” and “national staff came off as ‘arrogant…they were assigning the blame to everyone but themselves.’”

TFA’s original 38 approved applicants had been reduced to just 13, serving ten schools, only three of which addressed the high-needs population, a critical part of TFA’s mission. An official with TFA cited that the issues in Seattle were a “complete aberration” by the organization.

I found this statement funny:

TFA in Seattle has made adjustments following the backlash. Lindsay Hill, the Seattle TFA Director, has eliminated all district fees, stating, “We have to make sure that our vision and our strategy meet our context.”

Meaning, if we don't end fees, we may end up with NO districts hiring because no one is seeing the value of TFA and the bottom line to their budgets.


mirmac1 said…
The author of this article had far more damning information than she chose to write about. Chalk that up to a TFA alum sympathizing with her fellow alums. She is no longer a teacher and never planned on staying on to help those disadvantaged students TFA pretends to keen over.
Anonymous said…
That article doesn't mention that TFA's contract with Seattle is about to expire...isn't it?

I can't imagine with the current board that it would be renewed.

It seems a key point to have been left out, especially since contract renewal will theoretically trigger a new round of TFA critiques front and center in Seattle.

Anonymous said…
Twitter is saying that Highline is about to sign a contract with TFA. Susan Enfield was pretty cozy with TFA, so not a surprise. Wonder how that will go over, as Highline as the highest number of NBCTs in the state.

TFA can't wait for charters. Sadly, there won't be enough on-line so the question is, how long will UW run their TFA program - in the red?
I mean, Tom Stritikus said he was a betting man and that TFA would meet its goals and that was 3 years ago. Still winning to place that bet, Dean Stritikus?
Anti-Charter said…
TfA needs to stay in the area because charter schools are dependent upon them.

Any chance Stritikus doesn't want to close down the program because Gates et. al need a pipeline of TfA recruits for charter schools?

Anonymous said…
Stritikus needs to leave TFA in place at UW because it keeps him in a happy place with Gates Foundation and exceptionally wealthy donors (Hellllooooo Nick Hanauer) in the area who are all pushing the Corporate Reform agenda.

No happy Edu Cocktail events for Stritikus et al without the program in place. I mean this literally as well as figuratively.

Anonymous said…
Forgot to mention: Also, no happy cocktail hours for Stritikus with TFA National without the program at UW. After all, he is The First TFA Alum to Be A Major College Dean of Education. Huzzzah!

Charlie Mas said…
The story in Non-Profit Quarterly is an exerpt from a story in The Nation. The larger story is more damning.

Teach for America has their own response to the Nation story. I don't recognize the Seattle they describe.
Charlie Mas said…
Here is a link to the District's agreement with Teach for America. It was approved by the Board on November 17, 2010.

Although the agreement says that it is for three years and covers the 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-2014 academic years, it doesn't terminate until August 31, 2014. That means that Teach for America corps members can be hired for the 2014 school year - if they are hired before August 31. Of course, after that date the Board is no longer obligated to approve their request for a conditional certificate, but the Board has never rejected such as request. So by making the agreement end on August 31 instead of June 30, it really covers four academic years instead of three.
From the TFA "rebuttal"

"..we met a unique level of resistance from a small but vocal group of individuals in the area.."

Not true. There were many, many parents, teachers and community members who learned about TFA and spoke out. This kind of marginalization is still part of TFAs playbook.

I also note that TFA Washington continues to use old test data on RBHS and Aki Kurose to say that they have poor outcomes. That is wrong.
Anonymous said…
Still curious about how Stritikus managed to become dean with so little experience and so few qualifications. Did faculty pick him? Appointed from above?

Anonymous said…
Thanks for the link to the longer article Charlie- very interesting and agree, much more damning the the NPQ excerpt.

Amused by Mr. DeBell's quote - "political optics" - what the heck does that mean?
Anonymous said…
Cool - I see some Seattleites including Charlie have added comments to the NonProfit Quarterly article. I suggest more readers of this blog do the same. Unfortunately, it looks like the comprehensive story at The Nation is already closed for comments -- too bad it allowed TFA to tell its story in bullet points, but that other commenters didn't get to counterpoint.

Here's the NonProfit Quarterly link again.

Got a Facebook message:

"Colleagues in the Highline School District (and a couple from Renton) were at the school board meeting to speak against Susan Enfield's agenda of pushing a contract with TFA in Highline. The board backed Enfield, and friends who stayed late were disgusted to see Enfield giving her TFA friends HUGS all around after the meeting let out."
mirmac1 said…
"political optics"?! OMG, laughed so hard I peed my pants.

Again, the author of the article knew the scoop on Tom "8x10 glossy headshot" Stritikus, and the PESB/TFA canoodling.

TFA got off lucky.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, the official school year, as far as the state is concerned, is September 1 - August 31. Unless a local school board has declared that the school year ends sooner, this would be the official school year. OSPI uses these dates to qualify funding per school year.

You would know better than I whether SPS's official school year is different than the state's official school year.

If it is not, the TFA contract would end following this school year 2013-14.

--- swk
chunga said…
mirmac1 is right on. The author, Alex Hootnick had access to lots more damning info on TFA and promised much more of an expose (based on local interviews and her insider access as an alum). She interviewed a number of parents (myself included). I found the article fairly blase and and not very interesting. Her characterization of the research on TFA was also surprisingly shallow and she didn't really offer real insights from Seattle. TFA's presence in Seattle is very small and their impact marginal - the real juicy story is their backdoor dealing which was almost completely ignored in the article. The issues she brought up were must more relevant WRT other cities. I'm surprised the Nation picked it up.

We should get Rita Green and the RBHS crew to give TFA a talking to regarding their out of date mischaracterizations of RBHS.
mirmac1 said…
I will be checking Hootnick's assertion that ten of the original TFAers are still teaching. If not, I think I'll ask the Nation for a retraction.
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