Archive for the ‘TFA’ Tag

Let me set the record straight…   5 comments

As I was checking the profiles of my new followers yesterday, I noticed that several of the people are affiliated with either KIPP or Teach for America. I figured that they found me due to my incessant use of #hastags. In previous posts I mentioned Michelle Rhee and the other above-referenced companies. I have never minced words about my feelings on Rhee’s leadership style, or lack thereof, because frankly, that’s my prerogative. Once I noticed who was following me, I tweeted the following random message:

A lot of #TFA people have started following me..hope they don’t get their hopes up b/c I ain’t drinkin the Kool-Aid!

It is not uncommon for me to use sarcasm in my blogs..that’s just part of my personality, especially when everyone with an Ivy League degree claims to be an expert on fixing public education (see, there it goes again). I used the Kool-Aid reference (Jim Jones) to remind people how easily swayed we become when begin worshipping false gods (now that there is from the bible). While I do not discount any progress made by KIPP, TFA, or the teachers and students in D.C.’s public schools, I take issue with the perpetuation of this myth that minorities are not qualified enough to educate minority children. NOTE: I did not say that White teachers could not make a difference. Please read what I wrote. Do not walk away with a different interpretation. Bottom line: I am not a cheerleader for any organization that can set-up shop in some of the poorest minority communities and set the glass ceiling at the principal’s door. Sure they recruit teachers, support staff, and some principals from minority groups, but how many of their upper-level management positions are filled by ethnic and racial minorities? Better yet, look at the boards of KIPP, TFA, and some of the major charter school organizations and count the names that appear more than once. Get back to me on that one. If these companies were genuinely concerned about closing the achievement gap for all ‘disadvantaged’ students, their services would reach beyond the four walls of the school. Perhaps they could ‘color’ their respective boards to reflect the communities in which they serve, and simultaneously make millions each year, per school? Nah..that’s too much like right. Instead, these Ivy League colleagues continue to groom their friends to develop spin-off companies, in turn perpetuating the cycle. Basically, Education-for-profit is akin to the ‘old boys’ network’ still prevalent here in the South. We look out for our own. Unfortunately, when African Americans adopt this same type of attitude, we get branded as separatists or segregationists. Some yahoos even start yelling about reverse discrimination! How in the hell can you have reverse discrimination when African Americans are usually the only ones who acknowledge its existence? Even then, there are ‘those’ (AA) who will deny it, slavery, and anything else to appease the ‘right’ people in power, but that’s another blog entirely. For those who are students and studiers (is that a word) of History, you know exactly what I mean.

As I said earlier, I am not a cheerleader for any person, organization, institution, etc. that perpetuates the obvious system of haves and have-nots, whether it be through employment, education, politics, etc. I will not temper my words to make anyone comfortable because no one is addressing the systemic racism and tracking that is rampant in public education to make sure my kids get a fair chance to make their own opportunities.

I did not intend to write this blog at 2 in the morning, but someone wanted me to explain my comments/feelings about KIPP. More importantly, I know that I would not have slept peacefully with these thoughts in my head. If I had more time, I would have easily added a historical component but alas, the best I can do is direct you to a wonderfully written blog interview with Ira David Socol. If he wasn’t a White guy, I would swear we were related because we think so much alike it’s dangerous…..for someone!

Peace! I’m going to sleep!

Remember when you point the finger…   5 comments

three are pointing back at you. Yes, I went there with song lyrics again. Couldn’t help it. Dealing with ‘education rhetoric’ overload. Last week I wrote about the single parent-bashing that has been going on in the media, especially as it relates to Education. Since I wrote that blog ‘off-the-cuff,’ I didn’t have time to do any research on people raised by single parents or grandparents who are now very successful and well-adjusted. I am sure that we all know someone who, despite the statistics and negative Nellie, went on to college, graduated, and are making some form of contribution to his/her community. I know I can name a lot of people who are succesful and self-absorbed, but I digress because that is not the topic of today’s blog. Instead, I thought I would issue a challenge to those who are still playing the blame-game and laying the responsibility of Education’s demise at the feet of teachers and teacher unions.

For those who are ‘in’ the 3-ring circus of Education reform, I can’t help but wonder:

  • How many of the ‘experts’ attended public neighborhood schools? Not the elite schools where parents pulled a few strings, but the schools located right in their own neighborhood. Probably none.
  • Of the people, actually ‘in’ Education, who are bashing public school teachers, how many would be willing to contact their teachers to say they did a crummy job? Probably none. For the record, I try to connect with my teachers each year and thank them for their dedication and high standards. Some of them are actually still teaching. Yeah, who says teachers aren’t committed?
  • Has any union-basher actually done any empirical and peer-reviewed research on the detrimental effects of teacher unions? No one seems to notice that Georgia, a state without a union, consistently performs in the bottom five. Massachusetts, however, consistently performs in the top tier. Hmmmm. Could one dare to say that student performance is tied to teacher effectiveness, which is tied to a strong and active support system, a la unions? No one wants to admit that. Nevermind.
  • Will anyone admit the real issue with unions: The only reason why education ‘experts’ are calling for the dismantling or reorganization of these institutions is because they (experts) want to bring-in Rhee-type leaders to fire anyone who does not conform to the regime-of-the-moment and replace them with TFA alums. I guess I just did. Nevermind.

I would like to know when someone, anyone, will start addressing the educational infrastructure, which parents and teachers alone cannot change? You know, things like overrepresentation of minority students (particularly African-Americans) in Special Education. Or how about the underrepresentation of minorities in Gifted Education programs? Here’s a good one: What about the systemic tracking of minority and low-income kids into technical education programs? It’s one thing if kids are interested in those programs, but a completely different issue when kids are not provided with exposure to options. I guess I will continue to have this conversation with myself because no one wants to jeopardize losing powerful connections by admitting that our country’s education system (not teachers) and its archaic policies are, in fact, racist and classist.

Sometimes song lyrics are the best way to convey your point!