Major electoral contests – governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, and wins by mayors-elect Martin Walsh in Boston and Bill de Blasio in New York City – caught progressives’ attention a week ago. Voters concerned about the future of public…
Posts from the ‘Education’ Category
Dr. Michna has done a nice job rounding up a kitchen sink full of myths about Teach For America. There are absolutely fair critiques of TFA out there—this unfortunately is not one that rests on sound arguments. I’m all ears, but give me something good.
I keep an open mind and can say that I’ve now heard both sides of the issue on this organization. It’s hard to argue with this rebuttal.
Informative piece on the reality of Teach For America and how it is affecting low income communities and public schools in general, written by a former member of that program.
If there were a paragraph from this essay that best summed up everything that is wrong with the TFA model, it would be this one below.
Every year, TFA installs thousands of unprepared 22-year-olds, the majority of whom are from economically and culturally privileged backgrounds, into disadvantaged public schools. They are given a class of their own after only five to six weeks of training and a scant number of hours co-teaching summer school (in a different city, frequently in a different subject, and with students in a different age group than the one they end up teaching in the fall). College and university faculty allow these well-meaning young people to become pawns in a massive game to deprofessionalize teaching. TFA may look good on their resumés and allow them to attain social capital for their bright futures in consulting firms, law schools, and graduate schools. But in exchange for this social capital, our students have to take part in essentially privatizing public schools.
Another good excerpt:
Despite what you might hear, there is no teaching shortage. Schools and districts fire their unionized, more expensive professional staff in order to make slots for the cheaper, eternally revolving wheel of TFA and other non-traditionally certified recruits , who quickly burn out.
It also telling that former DC public schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee is a former Teach for America alumni. I’m sure when the idea of TFA was first devised the intent was a noble one; but sadly it has been turned into a weapon of the anti-union, pro-charter school and pro privatization movement. That’s why it’s good to hear that there is now a block of former TFA alumni agitating for change in how that organization is run.
Not to be mistaken with charter schools (or can they be?), some Wall Street investors are getting wealthy from starting for-profit school scams.
As the report explains, ex-con Milken formed several “education” companies including Knowledge Universe and Knowledge Learning.
With $10 million invested in his K12 Inc. scam, Milken let fellow junk bond dealer Ron Packard in on the action. And together they raked in millions: Okay, so they’re making a lot of money. At least the kids are getting an education, right? Wrong.
Most of the kids don’t even exist: A teacher at one of these virtual schools said three-quarters of the students in one of her classes never logged on, completed any work or responded to phone calls — yet they remained on her class roster.
The “schools” hold on to the taxpayer money allocated based on student head counts even when a majority of those kids decide to transfer back to standard brick-and-mortar schools.
This makes Donald Trump’s namesake university look saintly by comparison.
We want better public schools not a privatized education using public dollars that is the charter school as we know it. If a public high school in Scarsdale, NY doesn’t have to teach to the test and can provide a quality education, why can’t a school in Harlem do the same? It’s about the tax base, the surrounding community and the faculty at the school. But there are some that would have you think a failing school is all due to teachers’ unions. Therefore they say privatize the management through charter schools and you’ll get rid of those “pesky teachers who care more about their paycheck than teaching.”
Charter schools aren’t necessarily better than public schools anyway.
In recent years, major studies suggest that, on the whole, charter schools are producing worse educational achievement results than traditional public schools. For example, a landmark study from Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes discovered that while 17 percent of charter schools “provide superior education opportunities for their students,” a whopping “37 percent deliver learning results that are significantly worse than their students would have realized had they remained in traditional public schools.”
Here is Diane Ravitch summing up the ideology behind the charter school movement.
The message of these films (Waiting for Superman) has become alarmingly familiar: American public education is a failed enterprise. The problem is not money. Public schools already spend too much. Test scores are low because there are so many bad teachers, whose jobs are protected by powerful unions. Students drop out because the schools fail them, but they could accomplish practically anything if they were saved from bad teachers. They would get higher test scores if schools could fire more bad teachers and pay more to good ones. The only hope for the future of our society, especially for poor black and Hispanic children, is escape from public schools, especially to charter schools, which are mostly funded by the government but controlled by private organizations, many of them operating to make a profit.
Like dismantling all of the New Deal and the Great Society programs, the other wet dream of the right wing and corporate Democrats/liberals has been the privatization of the public education system. There’s simply too much money to be made in doing so, just like with privatizing people’s retirement and putting it all into the stock market so brokers can earn fat commission checks–meanwhile the people lose thousands from bad investments.
As the years have passed it seems that the momentum behind the charter school movement was unstoppable. Well this past week, Democrats in Connecticut sent the corporatists a wake up call that says we want our education system back and it’s being heard loud and clear by everyone.
A coalition of teachers, parents, local activists, working families, and good-government groups — folks with a stake in the education system in Bridgeport — came together and defeated the Bridgeport political machine,” said Lindsay Farrell, state director of the Connecticut Working Families Party, which backed the winning slate of insurgent candidates. “I think we have reason to be optimistic that the tide is turning against this corporate reform movement that Paul Vallas is the poster child for.”
The Working Families Party and its allies in Bridgeport were up against some formidable opponents too. They had Michelle Rhee‘s organization and Bloomberg’s money to contend with.
I’ll end with a quote from the WFP’s spokesperson.
Now, in Bridgeport, they have struck another blow. “This was a repudiation of the corporate-reform model, a repudiation of Paul Vallas, and a call for community control of education,” Joe Dinkin, a national spokesman for the Working Families Party, told me. “There are major fights over the future of education going on in a lot of bigger cities than Bridgeport. I hope people in those places will see this and take heart. The [corporate reformers] have gone close to undefeated in expanding their agenda for the last couple of decades. But this shows they can be beaten.”
GWEN IFILL: Now our look at expanding access to the country's most prestigious universities. It's part of our focus on inequality in America. Much attention has been paid lately to the issue of rising student debt and soaring college costs. But for…
I’m really saddened to see the fate of tenured teachers in our society today.
Indeed, the level of respect afforded to those who have devoted their adult lives to the education of children has diminished to the point that the prevailing zeitgeist suggests that comparably junior members of the profession are somehow inherently superior to their more experienced colleagues.
If it seems like I have travel led down this road before, it because I have . Eighteen months ago, I wrote about how “tenure reform” was an attack on veteran teachers and their employment rights, wrapped in the cloak of “improving education” for kids.
Teaching is a challenging profession and someone who has been doing it for a very long time has a lot to teach newcomers.
I’m glad that President Obama has begun to take the ridiculous cost of a college education and the debt one incurs seeking it seriously.
From People’s World:
In Buffalo, the president proposed a three step policy to begin to address these issues: a ratings system to measure how efficient colleges are in working to keep tuition costs down; more innovation and competition among schools; and helping students manage their loan debt.
Being unable to afford a college education is one of the main barriers to economic mobility in this country. It’s been this way for decades now.
It sure sounds like a form of scab labor to me when you think about it.
Read this excerpt from the Talking Union blog on the windy city and TFA:
Why would CPS throw more money into recruiting recent college graduates with five weeks of training and no teaching certificates into the district when it lets go of highly-qualified, certified, veteran teachers?
The Chicago Public Schools district is going to give Teach for America (TFA) $1.6 million dollars this cycle. Add Rahm Emanuel’s lavish treatment of DePaul University at the expense of Chicago’s public schools and you have to wonder who really has the city’s best interests at heart here?