Archives for category: Teach for America

Many readers were upset to learn that Randi Weingarten was speaking at the Teach for America 25th reunion at the Convention Center in Washington, D.C., last weekend.

 

Randi appeared on a panel with Howard Fuller, who advocates for charters and vouchers. Fuller founded the BAEO, the Black Alliance for Educational Options. He goes around the country promoting school choice to black leaders and communities. Many years ago, he was the superintendent in Milwaukee. When he became a choice advocate, he was funded by the rightwing Bradley Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and others.

 

Randi points out in her article that vouchers have been a failure in Milwaukee, but she wasn’t there to debate Fuller. She explains here why she decided to appear at the TFA event.

 

My purpose was not to debate Fuller; it was to have a conversation about a path forward, to end the ridiculous debate in reform circles that poverty and greater economic issues don’t matter, and to debunk the notion that individual teachers can do it all.

 

I caught some flack on Twitter and Facebook for even attending a TFA event. The AFT and TFA disagree on a number of fundamental issues regarding education. I believe that teacher preparation should reflect the complexity and importance of this work, and that a crash course simply doesn’t cut it — it’s not fair to corps members or their students. Further, I think that TFA’s model of inadequately prepared teachers and high turnover deprofessionalizes teaching by design. And it’s dead wrong when districts use austerity as the excuse to hire TFA recruits as replacements for experienced teachers.

 

Read on.

In honor of the 25th anniversary of Teach for America, a reader sent me this spoof from The Onion.

 

As you know, the slogan of TFA is that “One day, all children will have an excellent education.” (Something like that.)

 

Well, 25 years later, we don’t seem to be any closer to that day. Maybe it is because TFA has sold politicians and corporations on the myth that having TFA’s “great teachers” matters more than funding the schools. Maybe it is because TFA sells the dubious idea that their young and ill-trained college graduates are better than experienced teachers. (Bring in TFA and save on pensions because they won’t stay around long enough to get a pension.)

 

But TFA does have a revenue stream of $300 million a year and is one of the most powerful corporate presences in DC. The organization is doing very well indeed. But the day that all children will have an excellent education is no closer. Indeed, TFA will probably have a 50th reunion and sell the same tired cliches about the awesomeness of their corps members.

 

In Wendy Kopp’s last book (A Chance to Make History), she pointed to three districts as exemplars of TFA success: Washington, D.C.; New York City; and New Orleans. She identified Chris Barbic of YES Prep as one of the best TFA graduates. We know from NAEP that DC has the largest achievement gaps in the nation among urban districts; New York City is in the middle of the pack among urban districts on NAEP; and New Orleans–well, if you think every city should wipe out public education, get rid of the union, fire all the teachers, and start over, that is a model. Not a very good one, according to the many researchers who have concluded that nearly half the charters are low-performing. As for Chris Barbic, he came to the Tennessee Achievement School District as a savior, and left four years later, with little to show for it. The schools in the ASD continue to be among the lowest-scoring in the state.

 

So, perhaps TFA will point to the districts that demonstrate the amazing transformational power of TFA. Not DC. Not NYC. New Orleans? Only if you believe that one of the lowest-performing districts in one of the lowest-performing states is a miracle.

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post discovered one of our favorite bloggers at the 25th anniversary party of TFA.

Mild-mannered Gary Rubinstein kept his Superman outfit hidden as he threaded through the throng of reformers past and present. Michelle Rhee was there for a rare sighting, as was Eva Moskowitz for a not-rare sighting.

Gary is there to tell the truth. Tough job.

“Rubinstein said he will call out any examples of spinning or exaggeration he sees. One example – Rubinstein tweeted a photo of a graphic that was displayed at one workshop that showed the District of Columbia as the urban district with the largest gains in math and reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) from 2011 to 2015. Rubinstein tweeted that D.C.’s scores were so low that even after the gains, it still was the worst performing of the major urban districts.

“D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson was a Teach for America Corps member in New York in 1992.

“I’m here to disrupt this,” said Rubinstein, 46, as he walked largely unnoticed around the cavernous Walter W. Washington Convention Center.

“Rubinstein says TFA exaggerates the success of its program and alumni while at the same time overemphasizing the role of teachers, contributing to a political climate that blames educators for the academic struggles of low-income children.

“TFA is so allied with this education reform, this ‘Waiting for Superman’ narrative, that it ignores other factors,” said Rubinstein, referring to the 2010 documentary that was critical of traditional public schools, and featured Rhee as she challenged tenure and other union protections for teachers. The film portrayed non-unionized charter schools as a salvation, and followed families as they tried to win admission through a lottery.

“The truth is, schools need more resources,” Rubinstein said. “If there’s a high poverty school, it needs way more resources – potentially break-the-bank resources. It needs smaller class sizes. I’m talking four (students) to one (teacher). But TFA doesn’t talk about that.”

This weekend, Teach for America is celebrating its 25th anniversary. As befits an organization with hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and assets,TFA is throwing itself a grand party at the vast Washington, D.C. convention center.

Some TFA alumni are not happy with the corporation. They criticize its role in privatizing public education, teaching children to conform, and undermining the teaching profession. The TFA propaganda machine does not welcome dissenters. It calls them “haters” and “traitor” and “enemies.”

Amber Kim is a TFA grad. She has grown critical. But, she insists, she is not a hater, and she refuses to be silenced or turned into an outcast.

She has organized a session at the TFA celebration for critical alumni, where they can convene, confer, and compare notes.

She writes:

“This February, though, at TFA’s 25th anniversary summit in Washington DC, I will be facilitating a sanctioned space for critics of TFA. The “Critics Not Haters” brunch will be held on Sunday, February 7 from 9 to 11am. All critical Summit participants are welcome to come and process their experiences at the Summit as well as critique TFA in general. This brunch came about after several deep conversations with TFA National staff. I requested space for all TFA alums, including critical alums, to collaborate and discuss perspectives that are important to them. This brunch is a space for TFA critics to build community, make connections, and hear numerous TFA counter-stories….

“It is important for me to state that I am very critical of how TFA has constructed, promoted, and empowered a very narrow, hegemonic definition of an “excellent education.” I am critical of the fact that TFA (often covertly) proclaims that an excellent education for all children is simply the content of the education that has historically been provided to and reserved for affluent, White children rather than an education that prepares students to challenge the deep injustices that undergird our society. I believe that TFA (covertly and overtly) pushes its corps members to deliver–unapologetically and uncritically–that kind of “rigorous,” “No Excuses” education to the students they serve while in TFA. Then, because of their (limited) experience in TFA, corps members go on to promote, teach in, lead, and create “No Excuses” schools (KIPP, STRIVE, Uncommon Schools, BES, etc.) where it is normal to hear “Voices off!” commanded or to see black and brown students marching in straight, silent lines to class. Schools where teachers are armed with their copies of Teach Like a Champion and equipped with robotic and patronizing “behavior narration” in order to improve test scores. Test score equity, though, is NOT equity when the means and methods used to achieve equal test scores are dehumanizing and rely on controlling the bodies, voices, and minds of other people’s children.

“TFA’s promotion of and alliance with these methods and No Excuses Charters (no matter how covert), however, is intentional and consistent. TFA tries to appear neutral and denies any formal connection, but the ties between TFA and the reform movement are evident and strong. TFA does not take any responsibility for the test-score obsessed, compliance-driven machine it has put in motion, nor does it own the harm that it does to students and the communities it purports to serve. So, yes, TFA makes me think critically. It makes me angry, makes me sad, makes me fight, makes me speak out, but it does not make me a hater.”

I received the following exchange from Professor Howard Winant, who is a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He received a request from the campus TFA recruiter to spend five minutes with his class, and he responded with the following letter:

 
Hi ___,

 

Thanks for writing me. I have sent students to TFA in the past, and I have friends on the TFA staff, but I have come to think that the organization has significant problems, problems which make me hesitant to recommend it any more.

 

I’m sure you and my other friends are well-motivated. But despite its claims and the no doubt sincere belief of people in the organization that TFA is working “to eliminate educational inequity,” that is actually far from the case.

 

TFA is deeply tied to the privatization of public education that is going on now in this country. It’s linked to the charter school movement, which is not a movement at all, but a largely corporate initiative to extract profits from the public education system by channeling public money into private hands. TFA promotes school choice and voucher programs which devastate low-income children’s education and communities. It is largely unaccountable to the public and to democratic processes. It cycles teachers through the schools where it works; many do not stay. It substitutes crash-course teacher training for the painstaking preparation that committed teachers should undergo, systematically and deliberately undermining the teaching profession. It provides a second-tier, low-investment teaching cohort for neglected schools in poor areas — largely ghettos and barrios — in which states and local school authorities do not wish to invest. So TFA puts an inadequate “bandaid” on a gaping wound.

 

This country has all the resources it needs to create a high-quality education system. What is lacking is political commitment. If those who work at or in TFA were to devote their efforts to resisting the wholesale assaults that are going on against public schooling — at all levels by the way, in public higher ed as well — their time, resources, and energy would be much better spent. TFA, I have come to think, is merely an ineffective end-run around these problems at best, and one of the sources of these problems at worst. So I won’t be supporting it any more.

 

Thanks for reading this,

 

Howard Winant
***

 

 

 

 

On 1/26/16 7:13 PM, ___ wrote:
Good Evening Professor Winant,

 

 

I hope you are having a great start to 2016 and the winter quarter.

 

My name is xxxx, and I am a Teach For America campus representative. Teach For America is a national non-profit organization working alongside others to eliminate educational inequity and looking to recruit UCSB students with a Sociology background.

 

We look for students, like the ones in your Special Topics in Race, Ethnicity, and Nation class, who portray leadership qualities and are passionate about community and social justice. They are uniquely positioned to inspire young students and make an impact based on their expressed interest for your class.

 

Given this and our last two application deadlines approaching, may we give a brief presentation about this opportunity for your Special Topics in Race, Ethnicity, and Nation course at the beginning of your 5-7:50, 5-5:50, 6-6:50, 7-7:50 class on Tuesday in the next coming weeks?

 

We will keep the presentation to 5 minutes or less because we value your time and know you probably have a lot of material to cover! Thank you for your time and consideration.

Very Respectfully,
___

___
Recruitment Associate

One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced that the state would put up $3 million to hire inexperienced Teach for America recruits and the Little Rock business community would pledge another $3 million for a total of 2015 TFA.

This investment is supposed to end educational inequity in Arkansas. TFA kids have been teaching in Arkansas since 1991. The achievement gap should be closed pretty soon with so many of these youngsters arriving for their two-year commitments.

At the press conference, there was some confusion about whether TFA would fill vacancies or would replace veteran teachers from local communities.

The governor declined to name the business people who out up the private $3 million.

Daniel Katz teaches secondary education at Seton Hall University in Néw Jersey. In this post, he warns his students not to join Teach for America and explains why.

He writes:

If you are tempted to join TFA, DON’T DO IT.

“I don’t come to this advice lightly, and while I respect that my students might be excited to join an organization that says it is dedicated to getting young and talented people into classrooms with our most needy students, there is literally nothing positive that Teach For America offers my students that they cannot do for themselves. And what they package with those positives is entirely negative for our profession. There are a number of truths about TFA that my students should consider before seeking an application….”

“First, Teach For America needs my students far more than they need TFA.” My students, he says, are fully licensed and certified. They don’t need TFA. It needs them.

“Second, Teach For America will challenge my students’ beliefs about quality education….but not in a good way.” They may find themselves in a charter school that is non-union and believes in a behaviorist approach to teaching.

“Third, Teach For America denigrates our profession, ultimately harming children in the process.” The claim that great teachers can be forged in five weeks of training makes a mockery of the profession.

He concludes:

“It is past time for young people to stop lining up to “Teach For America,” and there is no reason that my students – who have earned the title of professional teacher through years of hard work – should ever join them. I work with amazing and talented young people, many of whom are passionate about working with our schools’ most at risk children. They can do that brilliantly, and more effectively, without Teach For America.”

This is an unintentionally hilarious story. Teach for America has created a rapid response unit to reply to critics and protect their brand. 

 

Instead of listening to thoughtful critics like Gary Rubinstein, they plan to spend half a million or more to dispute him. Hey, Gary, you are scaring them!

 

A nonprofit group has begun a public relations campaign to defend Teach for America against critics of the program that places newly minted college graduates in teaching jobs in some of the country’s most challenging classrooms.

 

The new campaign, called Corps Knowledge, is an offshoot of the New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), a network that supports public charter schools and school choice and wants to weaken teacher tenure laws.

 

Derrell Bradford, NYCAN’s executive director, said the campaign aims to counter attacks on Teach for America’s image, which some people loyal to the program think has been damaged by “a few disgruntled alumni” and other critics.

 

Several TFA alumni have written negatively about their experiences, saying that TFA’s five-week training session did not adequately prepare them for teaching in struggling schools and that the two-year commitment that TFA requires adds to the teacher churn in high-needs schools.

 

So, TFA chooses not to listen to its alumni who say they were ill-prepared by five weeks of training for the challenges of the classroom.

 

And TFA thinks that its two-year commitment does not add to teacher churn in high-need schools.

 

Why would anyone spend $500,000-$1,000,000 to say that these criticisms are wrong? Why not think about it? Does TFA believe that a recent college graduate with five weeks of training should be responsible for children with disabilities? Do they think no special training is necessary? Are they saying that people who earn an M.A. or a doctorate in special education have wasted their time?

 

Does TFA ever reflect on its constant boasting? Does TFA ever feel a little bit ashamed of claiming that any TFA recruit is superior to an experienced teacher? Do their recruits have nothing to learn?

 

Has TFA ever wondered why its stars promote charters and vouchers and high-stakes teacher evaluations? It appears that TFA dislikes public schools and teachers who make a career of teaching. Why do they like VAM? Is it because TFA teachers don’t hang around long enough to get a VAM rating? Why are they opposed to teacher tenure? Is this a by-product of their low opinion of experienced teachers or are they just thinking of themselves, knowing they will never stay around long enough to acquire tenure?

 

Instead of mounting an expensive campaign to refute Gary Rubinstein, they should talk to him. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful and considerate people I have ever met. He also has a great sense of humor. If TFA listened to him, I bet they would learn a lot. At the very least, they should try to find out why one of the original members of TFA has become a critic. They will never know unless they listen.

 

 

Gary Rubinstein, the most thoughtful of Teach for America’s critical alums, plans to attend the 25th anniversary of Teach for America. Gary’s blog has punctured the illusions of TFA and other corporate reformers again and again. Will he be shunned? Will anyone speak to him?

 

When I read Gary’s post, my first reaction was that the party would be “a conclave of losers,” considering how many of the TFA stars have faded or failed or disappeared into obscurity.  Not to mention the fact that TFA has not–in its 25 years–closed the achievement gap in any district or turned any district into a paragon of excellence. “One day,” the TFA slogan (“one day all children will have an excellent education”) seems as far away as ever.

 

But what a meeting it will be!

 

Gary writes:

 

 

Of the 200 speakers listed so far, there is only one ‘reform critic’ I see, Los Angeles Board President Steve Zimmer. Then there are about 150 people I’ve never heard of, but who are mostly from different ed companies or charter schools, and then there are about 50 A and B list ‘reformers’ and charter leaders. These include Jeremy Beard (YES Prep), Karolyn Belcher (President of TNTP), RiShawn Biddle (Dropout Nation), Tim Daly (Former President of TNTP), Mike Feinberg (KIPP), Heather Harding (former VP of research at TFA, now with Gates), Kevin Huffman (former Tennessee Education commissioner and former husband of Michelle Rhee), Michael Johnston (State senator in Colorado who got a teacher evaluation law passed where 50% of the evaluation is based on value-added), John King (current acting Secretary of Education), Dave Levin (KIPP), Kira Orange Jones (New Orleans Board Member), Paymon Rouhanifard (Camden Schools Superintendent), Alexander Russo (Writer and reform cheerleader), Hannah Skandera (secretary of education for New Mexico), Preston Smith (CEO Rocketship Charter schools), John White (State Superintendent of Louisiana), Joe Williams (DFER and now Walton). Not yet on the speakers page, but listed on some of the panels are Joel Klein (Amplify and former chancellor in NYC), John Deasy (Former head of Los Angeles Schools), Jon Schnur (Architect of Race To The Top), Chris ‘Citizen’ Stewart (blogger who I’ve sparred with on Twitter), and, of course, Michelle Rhee (StudentsFirst and star of Waiting For Superman).

 

Many of the sessions also have a ‘reform’ slant. There’s a session called ‘Becoming an Education Influencer on Twitter’ that I think I’d be an ideal candidate to be on. But instead of me there’s ‘Dropout Nation’s’ RiShawn Biddle and Alexander Russo.

 

There’s one called “Alumni Trailblazers’ Perspectives on the Path to One Day in Our Lifetime.” The panelists are the queen reformer Michelle Rhee, the prince, Louisiana Education Commissioner (for now) John White, and KIPP founders Mike Feinberg, and Dave Levin.

 

Joel Klein is moderating a panel called ‘What Will It Take To Reach One Day?’ and on the panel are Kevin Huffman and Kira Orange Jones.

 

One with an intriguing title is “What should we do when the whole school fails?” It is moderated by the husband of TFA CEO Elisa Villanueva-Beard, Jeremy Beard, who has apparently left his post at Houston Independent School District leading their failed turnaround program ‘Apollo 20’ and is now the head of YES Prep Charter Schools in Houston. On this panel is Chris ‘Citizen’ Stewart, who has been known to accuse me of being a racist from time to time. This panel also has the one and only ‘reform critic’ that I know of, Steve Zimmer, who is the head of the school board in Los Angeles.

 

Michael Johnston is on a bunch of panels. One is called ‘What Works and What Doesn’t in Education Policy” I think he is an expert on the latter as his horrific ‘accountability’ plan in Colorado where 50% of teacher evaluation is based on value-added scores has accomplished absolutely nothing in terms of test score increases. On that panel is ‘Chief For Change’ Hannah Skandera, New Mexico Secretary of Education , and Jon Schnur, ‘architect’ of Race To The Top.

 

Perhaps the craziest session is called ‘Exploring the Role of Joel Klein as Mentor and Role Model: A Case Study.’ The CEO of TFA, Elisa Villanueva-Beard is actually the moderator on this one. Most of the people who Klein mentored are no longer in power, the most recent to be forced out was Cami Anderson in Newark. I’m hoping that John White in Louisiana will be out by then and then there will be a full turnover of the Klein mentees.

 

 

Jamaal Bowman wrote a powerful and important letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Bowman is a Néw York City middle school principal.

Please read and share. Help it go viral. It is an incisive critique of corporate reform. When did it become “liberal” to attack unions, career teachers, and public education? This used to be the agenda of the far rightwing of the Republican Party.

He writes:

“I hope this letter finds you and your family in good health and good spirits. I write not only to you, but also to those who share your view of public education….

“I also want to personally thank you for allowing me to provide testimony to the common core commission at the College of New Rochelle…..The work of the commission, along with your hiring of Jere Hochman as Deputy Secretary of Education, has me very excited about the direction in which we are moving.

“My excitement turned to devastation however as I watched your November 17th interview with David Gergen at the Harvard Kennedy School of Public Leadership [link to video is in Bowman’s post]. As an education practitioner for sixteen years, it was both frustrating and disheartening to watch the two of you pontificate about public education in what I consider to be a dangerous and irresponsible manner.

“Your discussion was wide ranging; covering topics from police reform to the new construction at LaGuardia Airport. As the conversation shifted to education, you told the audience that you are in constant conflict with the teacher union. You shared that your “unabashed” support for charter schools, to which you refer to as “laboratories of invention,” as well as your teacher evaluation mandate, are two of the causes of this conflict. You also went on to share your excitement around the possibilities of technology as a means to help circumvent the “machine” of the teacher union bureaucracy.

“Mr. Gergen, to whom you refer to as one of the experts and craftsman of his generation, recklessly framed the conversation in a way that greatly mis-categorizes the public education narrative. Mr. Gergen stated that teacher unions don’t want “young smart” people from Teach for America entering the profession. He then went on to praise charter schools as places that provide “24/7 support to children and families,” and “really work with the children themselves.” While Mr. Gergen made these comments, you nodded your head enthusiastically in agreement.

“There are two things that are incredibly careless about this conversation. First, it lacks a valid and reliable research base. Second, the two of you have a platform to really shape public discourse. As such, you must take extra special care to avoid facilitating misinformation regarding public education or any other topic. If you don’t, the perpetuation of child suffering will continue in schools throughout the state — as it does in schools all over the country.

“What does the data tell us about these widely discussed topics? First, public schools as a whole “outperform” charter schools. I place the word outperform in quotes because of our narrow view of what it means to perform in public schools today. The few charter schools that are celebrated for closing the alleged “achievement gap” have faced extreme criticism and scrutiny for their draconian test prep and recruitment practices, and boast incredibly high student and staff attrition rates. Some may argue these practices are the price to pay for achievement, but consider these questions:

“Are we ready to accept the instability and emotional trauma that comes with schools designed around draconian test prep practices?

“Does high performance on standardized assessments truly equate to what we all mean by achievement?
Research shows otherwise: In 2003, the “gold standard” of charter schools, KIPP, had a graduating class that ranked fifth in New York City on the math standardized tests. Six years after entering college, only 21% of that cohort had earned a college degree.

“In the landmark book, ‘Crossing The Finish Line: Completing College at America’s Public Universities,’ former college presidents William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson found that student high school G.P.A. was more predictive of college success than S.A.T. scores.

“As you can see Mr. Governor, high performance on standardized tests alone do not equate to a quality education. What research identifies as a determinate of quality schools, lies in a well rounded curriculum inclusive of both academic and adaptive skills, where students get to solve problems creatively, work with their peers, and experience both teacher and student centered pedagogy.

“As to your comments regarding charter schools serving as “labs of invention,” allow me to remind you that some of the most innovative schools in the country are public schools right here in your state. From the NYC iSchool, to Westside Collaborative, to Brooklyn New School, to Quest to Learn, there is amazing work happening in unionized public schools that we all can learn from. Charter schools that promote silent breakfast, silent lunch, silent hallway transitions, and have teachers walking around with clipboards to give demerits to students who misbehave, do not sound like labs of invention to me — they sound like labs of oppression.

“Your statement related to wanting teacher evaluations because “right now we have none” is categorically false. Teachers have been evaluated throughout my entire career. With regard to the new evaluation system, the issue isn’t that teachers are averse to evaluations, they just want evaluations that are fair and just. An evaluation that is 50% aligned to invalid and unreliable tests, created by a 3rd party for-profit company, aligned to new standards and curriculum with minimal teacher input, is both unfair and unjust. What makes matters worse is by continuing to turn a deaf ear to the research on child and brain development, we continue to have an achievement gap that will never be closed by an evaluation system tied to test scores.

“Furthermore, why are charter schools exempt from your teacher evaluation plan? That also doesn’t seem fair or just.

“Regarding Mr. Gergen’s comments, teacher unions aren’t afraid of “young smart” teachers entering the profession. On the contrary, that is what they want! Teacher unions oppose Teach for America (TFA) because the majority of TFA recruits leave the classroom within three years, with most leaving the profession entirely. This obviously creates a continued vacuum in our most vulnerable communities and has indirectly undermined the recruitment and stability of teachers via traditional pathways. Further, Teach for America has been around for 25 years and our so called “achievement gap” has grown. Their impact has been a net zero at best for the profession.

“Mr. Gergen also seems to think only charter schools support students and families 24/7. To this I say check my phone records, and the phone records of educators throughout the country. We all love our students as our own children and we are constantly in touch with families into the evenings and on weekends to support them with whatever they need. Mr. Gergen disrespects and undermines the profession with these nonsensical statements.

“Lastly, regarding your excitement for technology, technology is simply a tool to help us get things done more efficiently and effectively. It will not in and of itself “revolutionize public education” as you say. The education revolution begins with a paradigm shift driven by the needs and brilliance of the children we serve.

“If we really want to transform public education, Mr. Governor, we have to stop investing in purchasing, administering, and scoring annual assessments from grades 3-8. We know 3rd grade reading scores predict future outcomes, so let’s invest heavily in early childhood education, teacher training, and school support. Lets focus on birth to age eight programs, implement a strong literacy and Montessori curriculum, and institute portfolio based assessments and apprenticeships in grades 6-12. If we do this, you will have a model education system for the world to aspire to.

“Mr. Governor, you, like many of your elected colleagues, are lawyers, not educators. I am an educator. I have been throughout my professional life. I do not know the law, and would never try to speak with any conviction about what should happen in a courtroom. What’s most dangerous about the public education discourse is the fact that finance, tech, government, and the “elite” are all driving the conversation without educators included. They have the audacity, to make life-altering decisions for other people’s children, while sending their children to independent schools.

“The masses of people, which are our most vulnerable, continue to be handled without empathy or care. Empathy requires that we walk in the shoes of others; something that charter reformers, common core advocates, and Teach for America has never done.

“In closing, I want to turn your attention back to your announcement of the Common Core commission. Do you realize that in that speech you mentioned the word “standards” ten times, and the word “tests” fifteen times, while only mentioning the word “learning” one time? Standards and tests are meaningless if they aren’t grounded in learning. Learning is innate, natural, and driven by the needs of children. This is why we must change the conversation from standards and testing to teaching and learning. This fundamental flaw in ideology continues to lead our education system down a destructive path.

“Further, although you and Mr. Gergen discussed innovation as essential to moving the education agenda forward, during your Common Core commission announcement the words creativity, collaboration, and communication, which many experts believe are pillars of innovation, received a total of zero mentions. Innovation is not just about using a computer, tablet, or smartphone; innovation is a way of thinking, doing, and being.

“Thank you Mr. Governor for all that you do for our state. In the future please be mindful to handle the topic of public education with extreme care. Be weary of your pro charter school advisors. The charter school money train and gentrification plans are well documented. Our work isn’t about teacher unions, charters, or technology; our work is about children — and the future of our democracy.”

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final say in reality.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

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