I posted before that four TFA alums are running for the Atlanta school board. This seems to be the TFA long-term plan, as Wendy Kopp has often stated: to build a cadre of leaders with a strong network of funders across the nation.
We know what this has meant in Louisiana, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, where TFA-trained leaders have fought for privatization, high-stakes testing, test-based teacher evaluation, and merit pay.
Here is an Atlanta article about what lies ahead if TFA alums constitute a solid bloc on the board and are close to controlling it. It is interesting that some of the candidates do not acknowledge their TFA connection.
The article describes a little-known offshoot of TFA called “Leadership for Educational Equity” (LEE). This appears to be the political action arm of TFA, spinning off groups like “Families Empowered” and “Mississippi First,” both of which advocate for privately managed charter schools. LEE is not transparent. Only members can access its website.
You can see why the far-right, anti-union Walton Family Foundation gave TFA $50 million, and why it is the favorite charity of major corporations. It is a training ground for the privatization movement.
Especially interesting in this article is the analysis by Julian Vasquez Heilig, who has studied the effects of TFA in the classroom.
The following is a quote from the article:
“Overall, the four are a largely pro-charter school group. If all four are elected, TFA alumni will constitute a near-majority voting bloc on the BOE.
So, what does this mean for APS, and how might a TFA voting bloc impact educational policy for APS teachers, parents, students, and other stakeholders?
“The first thing is, it’s not surprising you have so many TFA alum running for the School Board.
TFA alums are everywhere but the classroom. Their turnover rate, after three or four years, is around eighty percent,” Julian Vasquez Heilig, an Associate Professor of Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas at Austin, and author of the Cloaking Inequality blog, told Atlanta Progressive News.
“It’s a revolving door of temporary labor. It [TFA] perpetuates inequality in teacher quality,” he said.
“It empowers districts to continue a revolving of rookie teachers. What TFA will argue is their five weeks of training in the summer is adequate for their teachers,” he said.
“In recent years, they’ve aligned themselves with the corporate reformer movement. That means vouchers, charter schools, parent trigger, anti-union,” he said.
“You see the Teach for America alum leading out in this movement to corporatize education. What that means, take education out of the public space. They [charter schools] are no longer democratically controlled,” he said.
“What TFA has done over the last few years, is aligned themselves with a variety of faces in the reform movement that are taking democratic control away from communities, and they seek to privatize many functions,” he said.
“The voters have to decide if they like what TFA is selling. If the public is happy with the temporary tourist approach to education, then they’re the right choice,” he said.