"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Corporate Christian Missionaries of Memphis and Many Shining Charters on the Hill

Education historian, Carl Kaestle, developed the thesis that the American ideology developed in the 19th Century from an overlapping and mutually supportive combination of three elements: protestantism, capitalism, and republicanism.  They are so closely linked, Kaestle argued, that a challenge to one often brings defensive reactions from the believers of the others, so that a skeptic of reading the protestant bible in school was often attacked as un-American, or an organizer of unions might be attacked as an ungodly and un-American.

Today in Memphis, we see this ideology brought to a steroidal level with

  1. corporate welfare charter chains clamoring for some of the hundreds of millions of public dollars up for grabs, 
  2. the State's Achievement School District led by Chris Barbic (former CEO of the corporate charter chain, YES Prep), and
  3. the Christian Memphis Teacher Residency Program run by David Montague.

Montague was a Campus Crusader in East Asia until 2009.  Thanks to rich white Boston investors, he is now in charge of his own group of young missionary teachers who, along with their secular corporate counterparts from TFA, staff the growing number of charter chain gangs in the poor parts of Memphis.  A clip from an article in Christianity Today (my bolds):
Through MTR, teachers in training from across the country move to Memphis for an intensive one-year residency. In addition to classes and seminars, residents are paired with a teacher-mentor in a Memphis classroom. At the end of the year, residents have earned a Masters of Arts in urban education through nearby Union University and a Tennessee state teaching license. In return, the residents teach in an underserved school in Memphis for at least three years. 
MTR is not the only urban teacher residency program in the country, and the concept of training teachers in exchange for years of service is not new; since 1989 Teach for America has been recruiting college graduates and young professionals to teach in underserved schools for at least two years. However, MTR is the only urban teacher residency program in the country that provides this training in a Christian context. Along with education training, residents attend biblically based seminars and courses throughout the year.
L-R: Church, Corporation, State
In the photo above from Bill Dries of the Daily News, we see the three elements of American ideology represented, left to right, by Presbyterian minister, Sandy Wilson, the corporationists' Chris Barbic, and Shelby County Superintendent, Dorsey Hopson.  With so many poor children to pacify and convert and with so much money to be made by so few, there is growing awareness among these leaders that colonization, indoctrination, and pacification represent, respectively, the corporate issue, the religious issue, and the civil rights issues of our times.

Photos and text below from a Memphis Teacher Residency Conference--and no, I did not doctor the text to say "admit corporately our belief that it is God. . ."

Anissa Listak, Executive Director of Urban Teacher Residency United, and Bryan Loritts, Lead Pastor of Fellowship Memphis, provided wonderful encouragement through their addresses. 
The evening served as a time to share and remember the impact MTR is making in our city, and to acknowledge and admit corporately our belief that it is God, and not simply hard working people, that is the giver and provider of all good things. 
Thank you to all who came for this inaugural event, and we can’t wait to see you next year.

Two of the enthused missionaries below:

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