Don’t Back Down

An Open Letter to TFA: Don’t Back Down in Newark

HoodieDear Teach for America:

As an alum of your program, I like to keep apprised of your goings-on. Though we may have our differences, I always try to appreciate your bolder efforts. So I’m thrilled to see you taking a valiant stand in Newark, where the district is preparing to can over a thousand teachers without regard to seniority and in contravention of state tenure law. Remaining in a district so openly hostile to career educators must require not just millions from the Walton Family Foundation, but the bold resolve of knowing you’re part of the civil rights struggle of our generation.  Continue reading →

Relentless

Education Reform, Inc. vs. democracy—now playing on a screen near you

Netflix-CEO-Reed-HastingsWhen Netflix bazillionaire Reed Hastings proclaimed recently that, by their sheer relentlessness, charter school warriors will succeed in eliminating the scourge of elected school boards from the earth, the reaction from critics was swift and furious. “Like a shiny red apple that’s rotten to the core,” panned one hater. “Downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again,” trashed another.  Continue reading →

Internal Documents Reveal Charter Expansion, TFA Go Hand in Hand

Broad Foundation emails indicate charter operators reluctant to expand without TFA presence

By Chad Sommer and Jennifer Berkshire
Last weekend, former Newark Star columnist Bob Braun published a bombshell column, arguing that the state-appointed superintendent of Newark, NJ schools, Teach For America (TFA) alum Cami Anderson, wants to waive seniority rules to fire upwards of 700 tenured Newark teachers and replace a percentage of them with TFA recruits. Executive Director of Teach For America New Jersey, Fatimah Burnam Watkins, quickly dismissed Braun’s assertions as *conspiracy theories,* while claiming TFA has a small footprint in Newark.  But the heated back-and-forth misses the larger issue: TFA plays an increasingly essential role in staffing the charters that are rapidly expanding, replacing public schools from Newark to Philadelphia to Chicago to Los Angeles. In fact, newly released documents indicate that many charter operators won’t even consider opening new schools without TFA to provide a supply of *teacher talent.*

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“I See Bad Teachers…”

“I see bad teachers…. Walking around like excellent teachers….”

Reader: when viewing the latest blockbuster at my local megaplex, I often find myself wondering whether the director of said film has any ideas for reforming our failed and failing public schools. That’s why I was so pleased to learn that M. Night Shyamalan, maker of such hit films as the Sixth Sense, Signs and The Last Airbender, has embarked on a Titanic-sized project: closing the achievement gap Continue reading →

The New Jersey Kidz Are Alright

Reader: it is rare indeed these days that we encounter the kind of feel-good news story to which we can tip our collective wine boxes. Today’s episode of ‘we lift our wine boxes’ comes to us via New Jersey. I am referring of course to the feel-great story of 27-year-old Education Pioneer and Jersey Boy Wonder Andrew Buher who has just been named chief operating officer for the New York City schools, the nation’s largest school system. But who is this young man whose meteoric rise has been nothing less than meteoric? Are Education Pioneers the new Boy Scouts? On what will he spend his new $200K salary? And is a total lack of experience the new black?  Continue reading →