Give the Gift of Excellence

300 million ways to support Teach for America this holiday season

Happy holidays, reader! Tis the time of year when our thoughts turn to the neediest among us, those that require just a little extra giving this season. I give you: the Philadelphia Public Schools Teach for America. You see, it takes a lot of those special Christmas envelopes, each containing a crisp $10 bill, to add up to TFA’s now $306 million annual budget (roughly 30,600,000 envelopes by my calculations). Fortunately TFA has plenty of corporate elves working overtime to ensure that its stocking is filled with excellence this year. Let’s meet these little helpers, shall we?

Honk if U Like Excellence
First up: Subaru’s Share the Love Event. Here’s how it works—buy or lease a new Subaru and the company will make a $250 donation to Meals on Wheels, Make-a-Wish, the National Parks Foundation, the ASPCA or Teach for America. Hungry elders, sick kids, litter strewn parks—the appeal of the other charities is obvious, but exactly what will our sending $250 worth of Subaru bucks to TFA accomplish? According to the Share the Love website, “More than 16 million American children face the extra challenges of poverty. Your donation helps recruit and support more passionate, committee [sic] teachers who help them achieve at the highest levels.” Note: this model not available with extended warranty.

Reader: what if we could close the achievement gap—overnight??? That’s the dream of overnight package shipper extraordinaire FedEx, which recently announced that it was kicking in $2.5 million to TFA through 2015 in order to grow “the movement of leaders who work to ensure that kids growing up in poverty get an excellent education.” But there’s more. Customers can now send excellence express using new FedEx One Rate. Through December 23, $1 from every FedEx One Rate transaction will be donated to TFA. But while the FedEx elves will be working overtime *giving customers across the United States a simple way to give the gift of education,* the elves aren’t eligible for overtime. That’s because FedEx classifies its elves as independent contractors, which means no benefits and a union-free workshop.

Does This Shirt Make Me Look Excellent?
Closing the achievement gap is sweaty work—especially if you’ve been on the job for, say, more than two years. Nothing says “excellence” like a $32.50 linen tee from J Crew, designed as part of the company’s Garments for Goods contest. Best of all, the entire proceeds from the shirt will go to benefit Teach for America, even the size xx-small which, if you are reading this, is MUCH too small for you. And while you’re doing your shopping at J Crew, be sure to pick out some of the favorite picks of the shoppers who liked the TFA tee. They include this $49.50 Hugo Guinness “me, me, me” tee, this $49.50 Hugo Guinness “blah, blah, blah” tee or, one that might actually be right for you, this $49.50 Hugo Guinness “nobody’s perfect” tee.

Get Off of My Cloud
Reader: nothing says “I love you” at holiday time like the gift of anti-virus software. But why settle for plain-old vanilla anti-viral agents when you can give a TFA two-fer? Symantec, which you may know via the irritating Norton ads that are constantly popping up on your computer, recently announced that it is giving $500,000 to TFA as part of #GivingTuesday, bringing its total contribution to the group to more than $4 million. Here’s hoping that Symantec can also give TFA the gift of security for all of the student data it has been amassing. A little noticed provision in TFA’s new contract with the Cleveland Public Schools gives TFA unlimited access to student records, including the authority to share student data with third parties. In other words, happy holidays!

Now how about making a donation that won’t benefit TFA but will keep this excellent blog afloat? Happy holidays from EduShyster


  1. Wow. I usually have a bit o’ the Grinch in me at this time of year (can I help it that I dislike malls even when they are not filled with holiday shoppers, over-wrought santas, and misanthropy-inducing x-mas musack?), but this really sends me over the edge. It’s kinda like the times when, after paying too many benjamins for a shopping cart full of chips, salsa, three kinds of cereal (why can’t the kids decide on one type for all?), and other assorted “essentials,” the cashier asks me if I’d like to donate a dollar (which the mega-chain will match!) to the local soup kitchen. It is ludicrous!
    I am totally offended and depleted of whatever holiday cheer I was able to muster. In the town where my children go to school, TFA was imposed upon us–much to my distress, op-eds, pleadings with the BoE, research presented to the BoE, tears, and tantrums. And, we seem to have a similar clause, which I howled about–the whole, TFA will have access to your child’s DNA and private records in order to–you guessed it! go to huge corporations and say, look! we are helping this woman’s child, who is clearly in need of some elite-college-graduate intervention as you can tell from this chromosome right here.
    I meant to require that the BoE to send a letter and waiver home to any parent/grandparent/guardian unlucky enough to have one of these condescending non-teachers–but I need to activate that campaign. Perhaps Edushuyster can help in this? Calling all parents–demand to know what TFA has access to in terms of your child (and your!) history and forbid them from releasing this without your express okay.
    I actually don’t even think that they have ANY right to ANY information. Alas.

    1. at one time in CA, under Williams I think, parents had to be notified if students were being taught by a long-term sub or by a “teacher-in-training” like TFA. Also, the Dept of Ed was supposed to provide transparency about concentrations of TFA teacher in schools that serve high-poverty, EL and minority students. I believe DOE has delayed presenting this data for another year. Here’s a great article written by a wonderful advocate for Public Ed, Tara Kini. She’s both a public interest attorney and a middle school teacher.

  2. My husband and I were watching tv when the Subaru ad came on. I nearly lost my mind. I’m actually considering writing the company a series of letters. I suppose this campaign producer hadn’t seen the numerous articles defaming TFA in the The Nation, The Atlantic and of course here, at Edushyster.

  3. “The defector begins by saying that his name is Orlov and proceeds by telling her a story about a Russian espionage program set up during the Cold War in which children of American families were kidnapped then replaced with Russian children that had been trained to be sleeper cell spies by a Russian official in hopes of restoring Russia’s dominance one day.”

    So now we know Wendy’s true identity is Evelyn Salt.

    These TFA cadres have moved on from classrooms to industry as well as up the ranks in the “education” industry. The sleeper cells have been activated and are working to garner money from within the economic system.

  4. Thank you for your continued fine journalism and wit. You deliver the facts, which should make me cry… but I always find myself laughing out loud. That takes mad skills. Wishing you a happy, healthy and empowered new year!

  5. It’s quite fitting that FedEx would support TFA, since it employs the labor policies Wendy Kopp and fellow TFA-bots would love to bring to the public schools.

    Unlike public school teachers who, for the time being at least, are full time employees, earning Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as pension and health care, those unfortunate enough to work for FedEx are not employees at all, but rather independent sub-contractors responsible for all of their SS and Medicare contributions, uniforms, vehicles, etc.

    It’s the neoliberal way: to shift all responsibility from the Employers and Capital to Laobor and individuals, while they gorge on rent, interest and fees at our expense.

    This is part of the dystopic future so-called reformers are trying so hard to bring about, unless we stop them.

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