SUGGESTIONS FOR LETTERS TO THE EDITOR.
CBS is airing (or has aired) “Teachers Rock” a star studded special on Friday, August 17th. This is/was promoted as a charity event that will be celebrating teachers and education. However, the educational organization selected to receive the proceeds was Teach for America. This event is/was sponsored by Walmart and Walden Media. Last year, Walden Media’s release of “Waiting for Superman” tried to convince us that charter schools are the answers to “America’s failing schools” and this year it is a fictionalized account of the “Trigger Laws” with Won’t Back Down (which will be/was highlighted during the special and premieres September 28th). New lies are now promulgated about public education. If charters can’t get into a “failing school” fast enough, parents can take over (and charters like KIPP and TFA will be there to support their efforts.) This is why we must speak out now to stop further damage.
Below are some factoids about TFA – use the ones that best serve your community. There is more information below in the David Greene attachments as well.
Teach for America is already well funded. It has received $50 million from Walmart, $50 million from the US Department of Education and $100 million from a consortium of other foundations, as well as additional millions from corporations and other major donors. (Districts hiring a TFA staffer must also pay TFA $5,000 per hire!)
TFA is an admirable idea. The young people who join TFA are typically among our brightest students from top-tier universities. On some campuses, more students apply to TFA than to any other prospective employer. Like others who become teachers, they want to make a difference in the lives of children, particularly those who are poor. However, novices with a few weeks’ training, no matter how smart and idealistic, can’t be expected to produce dramatic results in two or three years as a teacher.
Wendy Kopp’s original mission was to recruit people who are NOT destined to be teachers. Instead, she wanted to expose young people likely to be leaders in NON-teaching professions to the (horrific) inequities in public education in the hopes that they will do something about it in their own field. TFA is NOT trying to recruit career teachers and only ask for a 2 year commitment. However, many of those who continue in the “education sector” move into positions of educational and political power and use these positions to advocate for more public funding for TFA and for the expansion of TFA into districts which were never intended to have TFA corps members.
Too often, TFA gives weak schools and districts a “cheap out” that fails to truly address a deep, endemic sickness that won’t be cured with any sort of cheap, quick miracles.
TFA benefits from actions that hurt kids and teachers. When a school gets shut down unfairly, TFA alums will be there to start a charter school in the old building. When a school fires half its staff for a ‘turnaround,’ TFA populate these schools with more TFAers. TFA must know, deep down, that shutting down schools and turning them around doesn’t work. It is this kind of destructive corporate reform at the heart of Walden’s new movie. Won’t Back Down is the new fictionalized narrative Corporate America wants to lead our public education debate.
I/(we insert your organization) stand with Save Our Schools, and many other educators, education organizations, parents, students and communities and demand we have a new Narrative hope that the stars who rocked for teachers on the CBS special will join us in providing real support for our public school teachers. We need their voice as well to have a true narrative on what we need to save our schools. saveourschoolsmarch.org
I agree and support Save our Schools Guiding Principles that:
For the Future of Our Children, we demand …
- Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
- An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
- Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies
- Curriculum developed for and by local school communities