What would you do if you recently acquired copies of letters circulating around Congress expressing support for doubling the funding for Teach for America (TFA) from 25 to 50 million of your tax payer dollars. The letters show support of Senators and Representatives, most of whom are Democrats. Maybe you'd raise an eyebrow and wonder if Teach for America lives up to the hype expressed in the letters. Maybe you'd wonder why Democrats are all too willing to believe the hype. Maybe you'd tell Congress to do a little investigating before appropriating $50,000,000 to a recruiting firm with no education expertise.
Wendy Kopp, credited with founding Teach for America, brags about waltzing up to donors, time and time again, asking for a million dollars a pop and getting it. In what fantasy land does that occur? Her adoption by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the NewSchools Venture Fund has assured TFA's success. Now it appears that Kopp and hermillionaire/billionaire sugar-daddies are doing the same dance in Congress, only a million dollars this time is chump change. It's fifty million dollars of your tax money they want so they can supply poor kids sub-standard teachers at a premium price. Read about their failed dealings withSacramento.
If you campaigned for Democrats in 2008 thinking they would be the voice of reason and advocate for fully-funded, strong public schools and professional teachers, prepare yourself for more disappointment. The Democrats have prescribed "No Child Left Behind on steroids" for our nations poorest children of color. Teach for America is part of that plan. It believes that poor children don't deserve professional teachers. Here's what you should know about Teach for America: Teach for America harms children.
The letters are full of lies. From the letters:
We truly believe this is a worthwhile investment as we have seen first-hand the impact that Teach for America corps members have in communities across the country. A growing body of independent research confirms this and has shown corps members' impact on their students' achievement is often equal to or greater than that of other new teachers. Moreover, the most rigorous studies have shown that the corps members impact is on par with, or exceeds, that of experienced and certified teachers in the same schools.
There is no growing body of knowledge that suggests that the teaching of TFA recruits equals or excels the work of professional new or experienced teachers. In fact, there is substantial research to suggest the opposite.
Research shows that the reading and math test scores of students taught by these "low-coursework teachers" actually declined from fall to spring of their first teaching year.
Students who receive three ineffective teachers in a row may achieve at levels that are as much as 50 percentile points lower than students who receive three highly effective teachers in a row. (The Flat World and Education, Linda Darling-Hammond, Teachers College Press, 2010, p. 46-49)
TFA recruits are not teachers, and they shouldn't be expected to know how to teach after only six weeks of boot camp provided by TFA staff who themselves are not educators. And, we shouldn't be expected to pay them to replace a professional when one is available.
In a study paid for by TFA, the evidence on members' civic and community involvement shows that Teach for America recruits actually do less than their counterparts who were not hired by the firm. TFA disavows its own study.
The group of leaders that TFA produces is nothing more than a modern "good ol' boys network" with leaders chosen by disciples of the Billionaire Boys Club. Why should Wendy Kopp, who has no education credentials or experience, be the gatekeeper to education leadership and policy positions. My guess is those new leaders aren't Democrats or Progressives, either. If this is true (and this is only a conjecture on my part -- but why take the risk), the Democrats are unwittingly destroying their own future by allowing the uber-rich to choose our future leaders, not to mention betraying a vital segment of their constituency -- teachers and people (voters) of color.
Much of $50,000,000 in funding comes from Americorps, money that was once set aside to fund volunteer efforts in our poorest communities. Their mission has changed to include payment for graduate school education of TFA ivy leaguers. This was never the intent of Americorps. TFA recruits are not volunteers. They are paid a regular teacher's salary for their work and, in fact, cost school districts much more to hire than certified teachers. Professional teachers are not offered the Americorps perk.
Teach for America wants your money, and if you don't let your Senators and Representatives know of your opposition, they are going to get it, lots of it. It doesn't make sense when every other education initiative is being slashed, Teach for America should have it's budget doubled. That's crazy! According to reports, the support has grown to over 100 members of Congress. Below is an acquired partial list.
Please contact your Senators and Representatives. Tell them to instead appropriate money to your ailing local schools. Money given to Teach for America is money wasted. Money given to Teach for America takes from the poorest and gives to the rich.
The vote may take place as soon as this week. These members of Congress have signed the letters:
House of Representatives
* Rep. Robert Andrews (D-NJ) * Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) * Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) * Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA) * Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) * Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) * Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao (R-LA) * Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA) * Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) * Rep. André Carson (D-IN) * Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY) * Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO) * Rep. Stephen Cohen (D-TN) * Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) * Rep. Joseph Courtney (D-CT) * Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) * Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) * Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) * Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) * Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) * Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) * Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) * Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC) * Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) * Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) * Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) * Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) * Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) * Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) * Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) * Rep. Jim Himes (D-CT) * Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) * Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) * Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) * Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) * Rep. Henry Johnson (D-GA) * Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) * Rep. Larry Kissell (D-NC) * Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) * Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) * Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) * Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) * Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) * Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) * Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) * Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) * Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-LA) * Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) * Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) * Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) * Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D-TX) * Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) * Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) * Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ) * Rep. David Price (D-NC) * Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) * Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) * Rep. Mike Ross (D-MS) * Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) * Rep. Gregorio Sablan (D-MP) * Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) * Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) * Rep. David Scott (D-GA) * Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) * Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) * Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) * Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) * Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) * Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) * Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) * Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) * Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY)
* Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) * Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) * Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) * Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) * Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) * Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL) * Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) * Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) * Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) * Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) * Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) * Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) * Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) * Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD) * Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) * Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) * Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) * Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) * Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) * Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) * Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) * Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) * Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) * Sen. Harry Reid, Majority Leader (D-NV) * Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) * Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) * Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) * Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
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