Jersey Jazzman has been following the money. He made an amazing discovery. The four candidates for the Atlanta school board who are alumni of Teach for America are collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in out of state contributions. Although maybe this massive outpouring of money to fund these candidates is not quite so amazing because we see the same thing happening in school board races across the nation.

What becomes increasingly clear is that TFA makes common cause with the hedge fund managers (“Democrats for Education Reform”), the fake civil rights group called Stand on Children, and a host of similar groups whose singular purpose is to privatize public education in the nation’s cities.

Teach for America is one of the nation’s most powerful political machines. Its alumni are honeycombed throughout the federal government, both in the executive offices, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Congress. The last budget deal included a provision declaring that TFA–whose members have a mere five weeks of training–are “highly qualified teachers,” thus gutting the plain meaning of the language in No Child Left Behind, which promised that poor children would be taught by experienced teachers, not neophytes like TFA.

Its latest 990 form filed with the IRS shows that TFA has over $400 million in assets. Wendy Kopp is paid over $400,000; she has never been a teacher, but she is filling the nation’s classrooms with ill-trained teachers and preparing them to take their place in the halls of power. Kopp likes to say that TFA’s mission is not just to send teachers into needy schools but to prepare future leaders.

Consider the leaders prepared by TFA:

Michelle Rhee, who has raised tens of millions of dollars to strip teachers of any rights, due process, or collective bargaining and to advocate for privatization of public education.

John White, state commissioner of Louisiana, who has used his position to advocate for vouchers, so that students can attend schools that teach creationism and lack any certified teachers.

Kevin Huffman, state commissioner of Tennessee, who is using his position to advocate for privatization of public education through charters run by his friends, while stripping teachers of any due process rights and any extra pay for earning a master’s degree.

Eric Guckian, senior education advisor to Governor Pat McCrory of North Carolina, where the attack on teachers is relentless, stripping them of anything that the Governor and Legislature can dream up while assuring that they are close to the worst paid teachers in the U.S.

Michael Johnston, a state senator in Colorado, who advocated and enacted one of the most extreme test-based accountability systems in the U.S., with student test scores counting for 50% of teacher’s evaluations, despite research showing that such programs do not work.

If this is leadership, our nation is in big trouble. More “leaders” like these, and no one will want to teach. TFA is doing more to destroy the teaching profession than any other political organization in the nation. Its very existence leads to churn, which is not good for schools or for children.

At the very least, it should not be tax exempt. It is enacting a poisonous political program that is hurting children and damaging public education.

Idealistic young people join TFA on the assumption that they are doing good work of social value. They are being hoodwinked. They are lending their time and their idealism to an organization that has an agenda that destroys the profession, demoralizes real teachers, and harms the children it claims to serve.