Like most who support public education and the teaching profession, I routinely pore over media reports to learn what the Democratic candidates will bring to the table for PreK-12 education, and higher education. Here are the frontrunners’ plans.
A while back Sen. Sanders gave us his Thurgood Marshall plan.
All these plans have good, questionable, and not so good ideas worthy of fine debate.
But I have one question for every candidate. Who is helping you with your education agenda? If Teach for America is designing your plan for education, Americans need to know.
This is not some simple point to skip over. Teach for America is about the privatization of public schools and many believe they want to replace the teaching profession. The Waltons fund them to the tune of $20 million. Many corporations support them.
If the candidates are working with only Teach for America alumni, it isn’t fair to career teachers, and it raises serious concerns about the future of public education.
Some TFA corps members are committed to becoming first-rate teachers. They go back to school and earn education degrees. That’s great! That’s why TFA would be better as a teacher aide program.
But TFA as an organization has been ensconced in politics, backed by corporations, and drives a school privatization agenda. Many from this group have gone on to become high level administrators, pushing drastic corporate reform measures,—Michelle Rhee, Kevin Huffman, John White, Penny Schwinn, to name a few.
We know Sen. Warren has Josh Dulaney, a TFA alum as one of her education staffers. I’m not sure whether she also has career teachers who studied education long-term on her staff.
Word has it that Sen. Sanders relies on Teach for America campaign aides too. Although here we learn that he fought against nonaccredited teachers. This article is confusing. It still isn’t clear that Sen. Sanders isn’t working with TFA. Many leaders have come to see Teach for America as legitimate. How can Sen. Sanders rely on TFA and be critical of them?
As far as Vice President Biden, we aren’t sure if he has TFA working on his campaign staff, but we do know the Obama administration was heavily connected with TFA and corporate school reform.
If these candidates are working with Teach for America to help them with their education agendas, how can they also be about curbing the growth of charter schools? We know that TFA supports charter schools. A recent report by Pro-Publica “How Teach for America Evolved Into an Arm of the Charter School Movement” confirms this.
Not to mention that Wendy Kopp who founded TFA is married to Richard Barth who is the CEO of KIPP Charter Schools!
We should not tiptoe around points just because we want to defeat the current President. We all want to support a fine Democratic nominee who supports America’s democratic public schools. Warren, Sanders, and Biden have spoken more about education than those in the past, and they all make more sense than the current administration and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. For this we are grateful.
But we are at risk of losing public education. Teachers are having to fight for their students like never before. In Chicago, yesterday, we learned that “naptime” for preschoolers is on the bargaining table!
The time is now to vet a future education president, one who sincerely has the same goals as the teachers marching in Chicago, for students across the country, and who recognizes privatization when they see it. It is difficult to see how they will do this if they are working with Teach for America.
Fool me once….
Remembering President Obama, who may have done well on other issues, but who disappointed us with Race to the Top: