Monday, October 29, 2012

Thinking about Applying for TFA? Read This "Teach for America’s Deep Bench"

Teach for America’s Deep Bench
James Cersonsky, American Prospect

An excerpt below, about the underlying paradox of TFA - pushing directly and indirectly toward privatization of schools, and its alumni now involved in political campaigns pushing those agendas locally and nationally, while it also happens to be in part publicly-funded.  (It is of course also super-funded by corporate donors and foundations).  Should publicly-funded entities be pushing policies that seek to erode public education? Any political accountability or oversight from the public?

.....Because it counts on federal grants and local contracts—in sum, $43 million in 2011—TFA has to be involved in some amount of political advocacy. LEE voiced indirect opposition to TFA skeptic and Wendy Kopp persona non grata Linda Darling-Hammond when she was being considered as Obama’s Secretary of Education. In the case of Kira Orange-Jones, TFA’s executive director in Louisiana who was recently elected to the board that oversees New Orleans’ Recovery School District and approves TFA’s contract, TFA is in a position to influence its own contract from both sides.

LEE adds a new dimension to TFA’s growing empire. A selective crowd of high-achieving college graduates is primed to take over the leadership of America’s schools. This summer’s elections for Nashville’s school board, which featured a race between TFA alums, could be a preview of intra-family rivalries to come. (The winner, Elissa Kim, is TFA’s chief admissions officer and garnered near-record donations for her campaign.) And while LEE may be policy-neutral, it isn’t hard to imagine the massive proliferation of Michelle Rhees and, in turn, the entrenchment of education reform geared toward money-soaked charter expansion, “new unionism,” and test-based student achievement. In other words, what began—and is still viewed by many—as an apolitical service corps could be the Trojan horse of the privatization of public education.