CTU President Karen Lewis On Sandy Hook: Teach For America Kills

I’ve had little to say about the heartbreaking Sandy Hook Elementary massacre because for the most part I see it as a horrible societal problem that visited a school, not a school problem.  Our schools have their challenges but overall they’re safe places for youngsters.  I have a column coming in TIME on the gun issue, which is more germane to all of this than education policy.

Not everyone sees it this way.  On her blog Diane Ravitch has been waving a bloody shirt from Sandy Hook Elementary to make points about teachers unions, charter schools, teacher evaluations and other issues that have nothing to do with the tragedy at that school or the apparent heroics of its staff.  It’s obscene.

You wonder if you should even call attention to such rank behavior and there is something of a “yuck” factor to it, for lack of a better word. But Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, the nation’s third largest teachers union and a force within the national American Federation of Teachers, found a way to make Ravitch look like a statesman while rushing to her defense.  Writing of a Teach For America teacher or staff member who criticized Ravitch’s linking of the massacre to education policy, Lewis writes:

There might have been a time where “politicizing” tragic events, especially mass shootings was thought to be in poor taste. That has changed with the 24/7 news cycle that continues to focus far too much time and energy on the perpetrator of the massacre than that of our precious victims. Rosenberg’s “false outrage” needs to be checked. That same false outrage should show itself when policies his [TEACH FOR AMERICA*] colleagues support kill and disenfranchise children from schools across this nation. We in Chicago have been the victims of their experiments on our children since the current secretary of Education “ran” CPS.

There’s more.  Ravitch, of course, posted the entire thing at the top of her blog to make sure no one missed it.

Encountering Ravtich’s disrespectful, and in my view revolting, use of this tragedy Lewis, the leader of thousands of educators and a senior leader in the American Federation of Teachers, could have:

Said nothing.  These were blog posts on a marginal blog that is mostly an echo-chamber anyway.

Or, seized the opportunity to unite and lead by pointing out that there is a big gun violence problem in our country- especially in Chicago btw – it makes everyone emotional, especially now in the immediate wake of this tragedy, but this is the time to come together to address this issue regardless of where else we might disagree.

Instead she took option C, which is to double-down on using this tragedy to make a point about unrelated education policy issues and make an unbelievable reference to Teach For America – whatever you happen to think of the organization – in the context of this tragedy. Poor taste doesn’t begin to cover it.

There is plenty of disagreement in education, people of good faith can disagree about many of  today’s hot issues, and those debates sometimes get heated and political. I don’t know anyone thoughtful who wouldn’t like to have something back or have said something differently at some point. That’s life.  There is also some bad behavior, dishonesty, graft, and the rest on all sides of these issues. That, too, is life. But  in almost two decades in education I’ve never been so ashamed for this sector as reading these things.  You hear this kind of rhetoric and see this sort of zealousness in private a lot, so perhaps it’s illustrative to see it in public.  But in the wake of what happened in Sandy Hook, and riding on the emotions of that tragedy, it’s disgusting and shameful. We have reached a very sad place.

*For the non-edutypes Teach For America is a national organization that places new teachers in high-need communities. Overview of major issues around it here.

39 Responses to “CTU President Karen Lewis On Sandy Hook: Teach For America Kills”

  1. bill jones Says:

    This did not take more than three days to happen.

    The edu-elite is now in full denial over this issue with their lame encomiums.

    Here are a few questions for our edu-elite:

    Why should any rational individual such as a teacher throw themselves in front of a bullet to save someone else’s child? Would you.

    To be precise: How will you include self sacrifice in your VAM models. And how will you account for this BLACK SWAN when you look at performance data for the teachers who survived? Precisely, how will you do it?

    Secondly, how WOULD a short time TFA’r respond? Their ideas lie elsewhere. They have NO buy in. They have limited commitment. According to TFA, their charges are extremely talented, career seeking individuals. Since when did a person of this calibre sacrifice their ambitious futures?

    The experience in the military with our elite special forces is that they spend YEARS learning the art of war. There is NO such thing as self sacrifice. It is NOT sought. It is not encouraged. They encourage honor, courage, commitment, and tactical and strategic excellence.

    So why is there from you the implicit assumption that teachers SHOULD LAY DOWN THEIR LIVES. If a teacher runs, how would you put that in a VAM model?

    Thirdly, why has your side fell so silent?

    Finally, you have engaged and encouraged a WAR OF CONTEMPT. That is the poison of a free society. Mix that with guns and people who will act with those guns, and you created a horrible, violent, blood drenched society.

    Yes, many people do blame you. You know it. And so you lash back with your snarky, isolated, cowardly comments.

    Four days have passed and you are back on it. You accept NO accountability for your words, thoughts, or deeds. In your tortured calculus you did not act. But you did encourage CONTEMPT.

    Do not throw up the straw man of encouraging action. No, but you did encourage the meme that led to the thoughts.

    Can you agree with me to STOP THE HOT TALK for three years. Or will your career perish and with it your access, information, power, and influence.

    Edu-reformers are mosquitoes: An entirely unnecessary creature on this planet.

  2. John Young Says:

    These were blog posts on a marginal blog that is mostly an echo-chamber anyway.

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  3. Phil Perspective Says:

    Shocking!! A union-busting blog rips teachers. News at 11!!

  4. Phil Perspective Says:

    BTW, I hope you realize that the teaching profession can’t be run like IBM. Neither can it be run by rich dilettantes(and their sycophants), who don’t care about people below them, and look at public schools as another opportunity to fleece the 99%.

  5. Chris Stewart Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. The level of desperation in the anti-reform camp is expressed fully in their rush to exploit tragedy as some sort of gauche currency. You are right, this is far beyond bad taste. That trolls for the unionists can simply say this is wrong shows just how recalcitrant and beyond decency they have become.

    Truly sad, and likely the reason the public is turning on them.

  6. Ryan Says:

    Agree Chris – and thank you Andy. Read the comments above Chris’s. These folks are not discussing topics in any intellectually serious sort of way. All that’s left for them are talking points and vitriol.

  7. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Revolting,
    Unlike Andrew Rotherham lying and writing on his blog here that teacher unions protect child abusers.
    Unlike Andrew Rotherham who wrote here that there was nothing wrong with Michelle Rhee lying/misleading/misstating the facts about her time teaching in Baltimore.

    Watch whoever teaches the children the this blog.
    He believes it is OK to lie.
    His children may be taught the same.

  8. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Unlike Andrew writing about teacher unions protecting child abusers, what Diane wrote about the teachers at Sandy Hook (that drove David Rosenberg nuts) was true.

  9. John Young Says:

    Chris, you need to seriously look at who is shunning whom: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/wont-back-down-box-office_n_1935527.html

  10. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Thank you, teachers and support personnel of Sandy Hook, for putting students first by devoting your lives to them. And thank you to the parents and other citizens of this quintessential American town for reminding us that you know and appreciate what our teachers do. For the most part, teachers and parents are united.

    God bless you all.

  11. Kim Says:

    In response to Bill’s comment (above):
    “how WOULD a short time TFA’r respond? Their ideas lie elsewhere. They have NO buy in. They have limited commitment. According to TFA, their charges are extremely talented, career seeking individuals. Since when did a person of this calibre sacrifice their ambitious futures?”

    I am a 9th year TFA’r, and I’m offended at the generalization that all TFA’rs are about advancing their careers. I chose to not attend law school because I do “buy in.” TFA ignited in me a passion for educational equality that inspired me to “sacrifice [my] ambitious future” because I love what I do. I teach in a high-poverty school, coach the dance team, coach the chess club, and have raised over $30,000 to send my students on a field trip abroad. No buy in?

    But more importantly, what does anyone’s opinion on TFA have to do with the tragedy at Sandy Hook? Seriously.

  12. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    But more importantly, what does anyone’s opinion on TFA have to do with the tragedy at Sandy Hook? Seriously.
    Ask that of David Rosenberg of TFA who went nuts with the column by Diane Ravitch.

  13. Jeremy Says:

    Philip – don’t skirt the issue and all the points that Kim stated. Answer them.

    I don’t know what type of English/Social Studies teacher you are/you had but we don’t teach students to not face the argument and make real points. Ranting and leaving is irresponsible, juvenile, and cowardly.

    Also, to BillJones’ point about why “my” side has fell so silent – well I am silent because I don’t want to edu-politicize a terrible, national event. This is much more of a public health, mental health issue, than it is educational.

  14. Peter Zucker (Bronx Teacher) Says:

    Here, is my take. I find it ironic that neither Eduwonk nor Whitney Tilson find anything wrong with Michelle Rhee turning the tragedy in Newtown into a commercial for MichelleRheeFirst.

    http://www.southbronxschool.com/2012/12/michelle-rhee-never-misses-opportunity.html

  15. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Jeremy,
    Kim is responding to Bill.
    No need to respond. (BTW for me, it would be kilting the issue).
    As for her comment:
    But more importantly, what does anyone’s opinion on TFA have to do with the tragedy at Sandy Hook? Seriously.
    Again, I state:

    Ask that of David Rosenberg of TFA who went nuts with the column by Diane Ravitch.

    Don’t kilt the issue, Jeremy

  16. KatieO Says:

    I am absolutely baffled by this whole debate. A lovely post by Diane Ravitch supporting the much-maligned teachers of our country and defended by the great Karen Lewis is twisted into this? I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised seeing this type of slander on the reform-loving “echo chamber” that is EduWonk, but still.

    For the record, Lewis never said “Teach for America” colleagues (and I found is extremely disingenuous inserting that into the text changing the whole implication of her statement.) I read her original post as speaking to the corporate education reformer colleagues in general, not TFA specifically. In fact, Lewis is careful to add “hopefully with beautiful intent on the part of the TFA teachers” making a clear distinction between the TFA members and the policy makers.

    Unfortunately, the reforms of the policy makers have indeed killed children here in Chicago. Callously closing schools, shuffling kids around, putting kids in danger by crossing gang boundaries has resulted in massive spikes in youth violence including deaths such as the tragic loss of Derrion Albert. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/06/chicago-teen-deaths-viole_n_311877.html

    I agree with Lewis. David Rosenberg, TFA, and all the others making such a “kerfuffle” over this post should really save their outrage for the real problems regarding our children, not this made-up controversy.

  17. CarolineSF Says:

    The so-called “reformers” are working from a script post-Sandy Hook, and it goes this way:

    “(Wide-eyed) — Why, we’ve never seen — let alone engaged in– any such thing as teacher-bashing. What in the world are you talking about? And it’s horrible, awful, disgusting and despicable exploitation that anyone would claim that teacher-bashing exists and mention the heroism of Sandy Hook teachers in that light.”

    I will exercise EXTREME restraint (with great difficulty) and merely say that this script is dishonest.

    And do the characterizations of horrible, awful, disgusting and despicable exploitation also apply to the Baltimore Sun editorial board, which said exactly the same thing Diane Ravitch did?

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-educators-20121218,0,6383452.story

  18. bill jones Says:

    Jeremy with no SKIN IN THE GAME.

    I am a retired submarine XO who took the oath of HONOR, COURAGE, COMMITMENT. I hold double degrees in math and physics. I hold a master’s in atmosphere science from a college of engineering.

    I am a lab assistant at a top ten public university in the Bay Area.

    I casually follow this issue. I think you and your posse are cowardly maximizers. You have NO SKIN IN THE GAME.

    Perhaps I do not write as well as you do. I do not care. But I do know a fake when I see one.

    You TFA gangsters spend your time blogging and lining up your next career. Wendy even said it. One more time. YOU HAVE NO SKIN IN THE GAME. PERIOD.

    If you would please explain how the TFA model would respond to the school massacre I would appreciate the response.

    Perhaps you could also explain how your exclusively professionalized community has ANY commitment to the safety and protection of children, and specifically their PHYSICAL SAFETY.

    I know commitment. I lived it for 20 years. What about you?

    One more time. You are a career maximizer. Nothing more. Now live with it.

  19. bill jones Says:

    I may not know the politics and policy of the edu-reform movement. I am expert in honor,commitment,and courage.

    TFA lacks it in every respect along with Michelle, and the rest of the movement. They are at best salesman and at worst crass political maximizers.

    Here is a litmus test for them.

    Immediately use your millions in shadow non-profit contribution to lobby for:

    1. Posthumous Medal of Freedom for all deceased teachers.
    2. The construction of a modest monument for their ultimate sacrifice at a local national cemetery.

    Or explain in your own words, why this is not appropriate or necessary.

    In the military their actions would earn the CMH. They did something that NO rational individual would do, BUT IT WAS COMPLETELY NECESSARY and they did it with a COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR THEIR LIVES.

    You reformers and TFA’rs simply cannot lift your eyes to this heroic deed. It does not comport with your world view, and your delicate egos.

    Man up, lift your eyes, and recognize these heros. It will do your soul good to praise them and give them the honor due to them.

    Perhaps I do not write well. But I know character when I see it. I know honor. I know courage. Those teachers had it when IT COUNTED. They did not brandish it from a podium or holding a broom on the front page of TIME magazine.

  20. KatieO Says:

    I ask that you change the title of this piece. As I argued in my comment above, Karen Lewis did NOT say “Teach for America kills”. I am now seeing this link quoted and reacted to by Wendy Kopp, Cambell Brown, and now Michael Petrilli of the Fordham Institute (http://www.edexcellence.net/commentary/education-gadfly-daily/flypaper/2012/sandy-hook-and-school-reform.html#.UNNk9fdjhRs.twitter ). They are reacting to your inappropriate changing and phrasing of Karen Lewis’ remarks from the original. Also, I ask that you remove the insertion of “[TEACH FOR AMERICA]” in the Lewis quote as that is not an appropriate reading of her statement.

    Very very shoddy reporting here. If we are going to have a debate, let’s talk about what people are actually saying, and not changing and twisting their words.

  21. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Just because Diane Ravitch gets so many comments on her blog each day doesn’t mean that other blogs are “marginal.” We all have a right to our opinions but obviously a well-regarded educator and historian with the support of American teachers, will get a bigger response than others.

  22. Mike Williams Says:

    Why has the gelatinous parasitic mass that is Karen Lewis not been hounded from society? The vacuous mewlings of this fraud have polluted Chicago air for much too long. What a vastly stupid entity Lewis is.

  23. Linda/RetiredTeacher Says:

    Description of a human being: “the gelatinous parasitic mass…”

    Need we say more about the people who call themselves “reformers?” These are not educators, therefore they must have another agenda.

    Educators are the people who devote their lives to the care and instruction of schoolchildren, just as they do (did) in Newtown, CT. God bless these people who are among our country’s unsung heroes.

  24. KatieO Says:

    I would also ask that whoever is moderating this blog remove the offensive comment posted at 6:00pm on 12/20. Absolutely inappropriate.

  25. efavorite Says:

    I say leave the 6:00 PM comment because it shows how inappropriate and insulting reformers can be.

  26. Daniel Says:

    Bill Jones,

    You are my hero…VERY well said, thanks for taking the time to write it!!

  27. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    On this issue, I would withhold judgement, efavorite.
    Unless you know Mike Williams to be part and parcel of the Professional Education crowd.
    If he is, please let us know.

    KatieO, Mike’s comment is less offensive than Andrew Rotherham contention that teacher unions protect child abusers.

  28. Daniel Says:

    Something that the soulless, money grubbing reformers will NEVER understand is the very reason they will fail. Love. Kids in American Love their teachers and their teachers love them back. Guess what? Parents love people that love their kids. Recent polling showed that the vast majority of America was highly satisfied with their local school. All the need for so called reform is BS from the deform marketing machine. At the local level people know they want mom and pop education, not big box walmart flunkies! I think the push back has started and the reverberations will be felt harshly by the corporate overlords and their underlings… Change is coming for sure, but its not the change deformers were hoping for, quite the opposite. Merry Christmas to America’s heroes first and foremost our Teachers!

  29. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Hello Darkness, My Old Friend:

    Scott Walker:
    January 3, 2011 — In his inaugural address, Walker attacks teachers and other public workers’s salaries and tries to pit low-wage workers against public workers, saying, “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.”
    February 11, 2011 — When Walker announced his intention to kill teachers’ unions and other public sector unions, he said that he was prepared to bring in the national guard to deal with worker unrest. Clearly, Walker’s statement was a smear on teachers and other public workers, because it intimates that teachers and other public workers would react as a union thugs requiring the National Guard’s services.
    February 21, 2011 — Sent out a press release with a sub-headline of “Viagra for Teachers,” which attacked teachers in Milwaukee for having a health care plan included all prescriptions.
    March 3, 2011 — Sent out a press release with subheadline of “Arbitrator Reinstates Porn-Watching Teacher.”
    March 8, 2011 — Sent out a press release with a subheadline of “Teachers Receiving Two Pensions” and another attacking Green Bay teachers called “10,000 Per Year for Doing Nothing”
    March 10, 2011 — Sent out a press release trumpeting his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he attacks the seniority system that protects older– and more expensive– teachers from being fired and replaced by younger, less-expensive workers during budget crunches.
    March 31, 2011 — Creates the absurd “Read to Lead” task force and smears Wisconsin teachers by making the completely bogus claim that 1/3 of Wisconsin fourth graders cannot read at a basic level. Such bogus claims are simply intended to undermine public confidence in Wisconsin schools.

  30. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    I’ve come to talk with you again

    Bobby Jindal:
    Jindal, speaking at the Brookings Institute on Tuesday, said America’s K-12 schools are lagging in the world and “do not provide equal opportunity in education” to children of different income levels. But his strongest criticism was aimed at the teachers unions, which he blamed for standing in the way of progress.
    “Were it not for the teachers union Herculean efforts, every low income family would probably have the opportunity to enroll their child in a better performing school,” Jindal said. “That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.”
    A “fact”? Also from Jindal:
    1. “Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business’s clients, they can never be fired.”

    2. “We are going to create a system that pays teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.”

  31. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Because a vision softly creeping
    Left its seeds while I was sleeping

    Mike Bloomberg:
    “Education is very much, I’ve always thought, just like the real estate business. Real estate business, there are three things that matter: location, location, location is the old joke,” Bloomberg said. “Well in education, it is: quality of teacher, quality of teacher, quality of teacher. And I would, if I had the ability – which nobody does really – to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.”

  32. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    And the vision that was planted in my brain

    Chris Christie (there are so many to choose from – lets go with…):
    The state teachers union said–they had a rally in Trenton against me. 35,000 people came from the teachers. You know what that rally was? The “me first” rally. “Pay me my raise first. Pay me my free health benefits first. Pay me my pension first. And everybody else in New Jersey, get to the back of the line.” Well, you know what? I’m not going to sit by and allow that to go unnoticed, so we’ll shine a bright light on it, and we’ll see how the people react. But I think we are seeing how the people of New Jersey are reacting, and that’s how you make it politically palatable in other states in the country. Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest.

  33. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Still remains

    Dannel Malloy:

    “And to earn that tenure — that job security — in today’s system basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years,” Malloy said in his speech to the Legislature on the session’s opening day. “Do that, and tenure is yours.”

  34. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Within the sound of silence

    THURSDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2012

    Reprehensibility
    How dare Diane Ravitch and Karen Lewis stand up for teachers after what happened in Newtown! How dare they point out the obvious fact that these educators were career teachers and union members! It’s reprehensible! Clearly, it’s wrong to stand up for those who work in schools after six of their own were killed in an act of senseless violence!

    Because it’s not like there’s been a systemic assault on teachers and their unions over the last few years, right? [all emphases mine]

    Dannel Malloy:

    “And to earn that tenure — that job security — in today’s system basically the only thing you have to do is show up for four years,” Malloy said in his speech to the Legislature on the session’s opening day. “Do that, and tenure is yours.”
    Chris Christie (there are so many to choose from – lets go with…):
    The state teachers union said–they had a rally in Trenton against me. 35,000 people came from the teachers. You know what that rally was? The “me first” rally. “Pay me my raise first. Pay me my free health benefits first. Pay me my pension first. And everybody else in New Jersey, get to the back of the line.” Well, you know what? I’m not going to sit by and allow that to go unnoticed, so we’ll shine a bright light on it, and we’ll see how the people react. But I think we are seeing how the people of New Jersey are reacting, and that’s how you make it politically palatable in other states in the country. Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest.
    Mike Bloomberg:
    “Education is very much, I’ve always thought, just like the real estate business. Real estate business, there are three things that matter: location, location, location is the old joke,” Bloomberg said. “Well in education, it is: quality of teacher, quality of teacher, quality of teacher. And I would, if I had the ability – which nobody does really – to just design a system and say, ‘ex cathedra, this is what we’re going to do,’ you would cut the number of teachers in half, but you would double the compensation of them and you would weed out all the bad ones and just have good teachers. And double the class size with a better teacher is a good deal for the students.”
    Half of the teachers in NYC are “bad”?

    Bobby Jindal:
    Jindal, speaking at the Brookings Institute on Tuesday, said America’s K-12 schools are lagging in the world and “do not provide equal opportunity in education” to children of different income levels. But his strongest criticism was aimed at the teachers unions, which he blamed for standing in the way of progress.
    “Were it not for the teachers union Herculean efforts, every low income family would probably have the opportunity to enroll their child in a better performing school,” Jindal said. “That’s not an opinion, that’s a fact.”
    A “fact”? Also from Jindal:
    1. “Short of selling drugs in the workplace or beating up one of the business’s clients, they can never be fired.”

    2. “We are going to create a system that pays teachers for doing a good job instead of for the length of time they have been breathing.”
    Scott Walker:
    January 3, 2011 — In his inaugural address, Walker attacks teachers and other public workers’s salaries and tries to pit low-wage workers against public workers, saying, “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and taxpayers who foot the bills are the have-nots.”
    February 11, 2011 — When Walker announced his intention to kill teachers’ unions and other public sector unions, he said that he was prepared to bring in the national guard to deal with worker unrest. Clearly, Walker’s statement was a smear on teachers and other public workers, because it intimates that teachers and other public workers would react as a union thugs requiring the National Guard’s services.
    February 21, 2011 — Sent out a press release with a sub-headline of “Viagra for Teachers,” which attacked teachers in Milwaukee for having a health care plan included all prescriptions.
    March 3, 2011 — Sent out a press release with subheadline of “Arbitrator Reinstates Porn-Watching Teacher.”
    March 8, 2011 — Sent out a press release with a subheadline of “Teachers Receiving Two Pensions” and another attacking Green Bay teachers called “10,000 Per Year for Doing Nothing”
    March 10, 2011 — Sent out a press release trumpeting his op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he attacks the seniority system that protects older– and more expensive– teachers from being fired and replaced by younger, less-expensive workers during budget crunches.
    March 31, 2011 — Creates the absurd “Read to Lead” task force and smears Wisconsin teachers by making the completely bogus claim that 1/3 of Wisconsin fourth graders cannot read at a basic level. Such bogus claims are simply intended to undermine public confidence in Wisconsin schools.
    The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute:
    Teachers, did you know you are overpaid by 52%?
    That’s the conclusion of a new study by conservative-leaning think tanks The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute.
    Taxpayers, they conclude, are “overcharged” $120 billion each year from the difference in teacher salaries and compensation compared to similarly credentialed private sector workers. Teacher benefits are often far more generous than the private sector, the study notes.

  35. PhillipMarlowe Says:

    Well, I messed that up:

    Rick Scott:
    Is a $2,335-a-year pay cut for the average teacher worth a $44.72 property tax savings for the average Florida homeowner with a homestead exemption?
    That’s a key question behind the math that Gov. Rick Scott’s administration is banking on for his pared-back school spending plan as the legislature gears up to begin its annual session Tuesday.
    More Rick Scott:
    “Why would it be that teachers are guaranteed their jobs for life? If you were guaranteed – you didn’t have to do anything, just showed up, and you didn’t have any obligation other than showing up every day – you think you would get better or worse? Right. This stuff is not hard. So we have a big opportunity.”
    Ann Romney:
    “AR: I’ve been a First Lady of the State. I have seen what happens to people’s lives if they don’t get a proper education. And we know the answers to that. The charter schools have provided the answers. The teachers’ unions are preventing those things from happening, from bringing real change to our educational system. We need to throw out the system.”

  36. jeffrey miller Says:

    How could a Governor of a populous state in the 21st Century imagine that I could come to work, plop my feet on my desk and sit there for 90 minutes, doing squat?

    Hello Florida, my old friend,
    I’ve come to talk to you again.
    Why are you so, oh, oh-oh
    The crazy oh no, no-no

  37. Cara Says:

    Does anyone else find it profoundly disturbing that some of these comments imply that talented, ambitious individuals couldn’t possibly be seeking a career in education? In my view, Kim didn’t sacrifice her ambitious future – she’s living it. Happy holidays to ALL the teachers, regardless of the route that you took to get to the classroom.

  38. jeffrey miller Says:

    “Some” of these comments? How about just one, Cara.

    While Kim’s story is by no means unusual, it is equalled by the degree to which TFA alums leave teaching to pursue more lucrative offers. This isn’t anything new. Sometime, take a look at the Boards and employees of national and local educational non-profits, as many counter-reformers have. You will note the large number of TFA folks alongside a relative paucity of such individuals who came up through traditional teaching careers to assume positions of influence.

    You will also note the relative youthfulness of the non-profit TFA staffers and Board members. What I find really amusing is how most of their stories are some variation on this theme: “Kate joined Education Pioneers after spending two years teaching in rural New Mexico with Teach for America. In New Mexico, she became interested in management and leadership issues as root causes of failing schools, and sought an avenue to contribute in bringing talented, dedicated leaders to education.” http://www.educationpioneers.org/about-us/staff-members#1058

    Then, when you look at the other people involved in education outside the box, you will find many people with connections to hedge fund management entities, technology corporations, and yet other non-profits. It’s all a very clever set-up; a nearly self-contained ecosystem of mutualism. Most classroom teachers are not affected by these non-profit entities, nor know much about the minutiae of their inner workings.

    But why should classroom teachers be aware of the larger universe of reform? Most of their free time is not theirs and is instead invested with their charges in the classroom. While I will defend the value of unionism in education, the NEA and AFT have done a lousy job fighting back against political encroachment on not just labor relations but the larger attack upon the entire educational system.

    So, there you go. There are indeed the Kim’s of the TFA pedigree who do commit or, more realistically, found out that teaching is rewarding and the TFA perks, can wait or are irrelevant. Just because there are true-believers who go on to be great teachers or who are otherwise long-term graduates of TFA doesn’t mean TFA isn’t a racket.

    I recently came across this fascinating insight into TFA. No, not from some anonymous blogger, or even 60 Minutes. It’s from a proud parent of a TFA’er who is more than happy to detail the particulars http://patimes.org/teach-for-america-a-model-for-attracting-and-developing-talent/ Money quotes, “But TFA also understands that many of its corps members will go on to other careers after the initial two-year teaching commitment.” And, ” Partnerships with more than 200 graduate schools, including top-ranked programs in education, law, medicine, public policy, business, the sciences and engineering, that offer a range of benefits for corps members and alumni. These include two-year deferrals to work for Teach for America, course credits for the corps experience, waived application fees, and special scholarships and awards.”

    Pity the traditional route to the classroom. People who get into TFA would indeed seem to have been qualified for another, more lucrative, career. People who want to be teachers in the traditional system but discover it’s not for them have no fall-back. Look, it’s just my guess here but it just might be possible that if a college grad agrees to do a two-year stint after college, it’s kind of like going the extra mile during high school to get into a college of choice. The modern job market is as much about padding one’s resume with extras as it is with actual measures of performance. This, dear friends, is the face of 21st Century education. It’s not about digital this or that or virtual worlds of whatever; it’s squarely about gaming a dysfunctional system. Same as it always was, same as it always was.

  39. bill jones Says:

    Just went and reviewed the long winded conceited bio’s for the fellows, staff, and board of directors for Students First. And just as I have claimed repeatedly for all edu-reform organizations they are social science majors with the exception of one neuroscience major. I could not find a single physics or math major.

    Even at the edu-reform math improvement think promo’d on this sight I did not find a single physics or math major. I did find two or three engineers but everyone should know that their math education ends after two or three semesters of Calculus and one or two semesters of engineering math. And that their physics ends after the basic 1.5 years calculus based physics and statics and fluids.

    I did see loads of edu-degrees in leadership, facilitation, curriculum and instruction and education finance and the philosophy of structural education change. Would someone please explain what those degrees are.

    And these folks, admittedly completing the weakest degrees in any university system, are leading the charge to save this nation from bad teachers. A couple of them were basketball players!

    Truth is stranger than fiction.

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