Thursday, August 1, 2013

SFA, Scabs for America: How Much Heat Will Chicago Newbie TFAs Be Facing?

...when faux Democrat/ Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel fires thousands of teachers and hires TFA grads to teach kids, that's something else altogether. In fact, TFA is now enabling the unemployment of working people. They are making their likely idealistic young college grads into scab labor. Their insane defense, that the jobs were eliminated and they are taking newly created jobs, is nothing more than a semantic game, unworthy of anyone capable of serious discourse. ...NYC EducatorTFA Becomes Scab for America

SFA. I like it. Has a beat and oh so true. I'm so happy there are people like NYC Educator writing about issues I thought of writing about but was just too lazy. So, as usual, NYC says things in a few words that would take me 10 times as long. Glad this is not paper.

I think Walton Foundation gave another 20 million to SFA in LA and Newark (Walton foundation donates $2 million to Newark Teach For America), in addition to the $3 mil Randi Weingarten pal Bill Gates gave  to our pals at E4E, a branch of Scabs for America.

I am wondering how the laid off teachers of Chicago who will not have new jobs, will react. I know these SFAs will be new members of the Chicago Teachers Union so the CTU itself is in an awkward position, but will wildcat groups of laid-off teachers and the parents and communities that support them target these 5-week trained teachers in the communities where they teach with an information campaign asking if their kids are better off with teachers with scant training while their former veteran teachers are on the unemployment line.

On another TFA front, Leonie Haimson takes them to task for putting their barely-trained teachers in so many special ed classrooms, where the most difficult kids to teach are located.
The biggest scandal of Teach for America?
There has been much discussion and debate about how Teach for America undermines our public schools by encouraging the deprofessionalization of the teaching force, and perpetuates systemic inequalities especially in urban schools. In many districts, TFA has used its political clout to get its recruits hired, as in Chicago, while thousands of experienced teachers are being laid off.  Gary Rubinstein, a former TFA corps member, has been a fierce critic of the inadequate training that the organization provides.  Edushyster recently wrote that the TFA has become a primarily a “placement agency” to staff charter schools rather than public schools – and in the process is fueling the privatization movement.  
All the above is true; but in my mind, the most shocking aspect of the organization is how in many districts, including NYC, raw TFA recruits are assigned to special education classrooms almost exclusively --because this is the biggest shortage area.  See the recent Independent Budget Office report  on p. 24 – showing that 80 percent of TFA recruits in NYC public schools in 2010-11 were working as special education teachers; and 68 percent of Teaching Fellows (a similar program for mid-career recruits, run by TNTP).
That to me is the biggest scandal.  Instead of doing something to stanch the outflow of special education teachers assigned to those children who clearly need teachers with the MOST training and experience,  TFA and TNTP fill in the gap, year after year, with the least-trained recruits, who only stay one or two years and perpetuate the problem.

Chicago teacher Katie Osgood has been hammering TFA and her letter to new recruits got a lot of play. Here is her follow-up at Schools Matter/The Chalkface

Why My Students Do Not Need Teach for America

Wow, there has been such a flurry of stories and discussions in regards to Teach for America and its destructive role in education today.  I suppose my letter to new recruits played an important part in calling into question this organization, striking a chord of truth.  TFA has gone into full-time PR mode with a blur of speeches and blogs from the co-CEOs, puff pieces from TFA alums, and even a Q&A from TFA Chicago’s Executive Director.  I am glad this dangerous organization is finally getting real scrutiny, and I have much more to add to the discussion at a later date, but today I want to speak from the heart.
More at:

Well, that's it for TFA bashing today. On the positive front, a 4 year TFAer who has begun to attend MORE events said at our meeting yesterday, "I've been looking for a group like MORE for 4 years." Hey, TFA, keep recruiting sharp people like her who, even though a minority of teachers who will stay in the classroom, will find their way to MORE and help us build.

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