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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

TFA's PR Machine Lights It Up in Memphis with Front Page Stories of "Enchantment" and "Allure"

CorpEd bought Memphis City Schools with a 90 million dollar Gates Foundation grant in late 2009, and early in 2010 the TN Department of Education was gobbled up by a $501 million bribe from the Gates controlled US Dept. of Education's RTTT.  Thus began the slashing and burning of Memphis public schools in favor of corporate charters and the "surplussing," "excessing," and firing of teachers in favor of Teach for America's post-adolescent-and-white-privileged corporate missionaries.

On Monday CorpEd's dependable lackey reporter at the Commercial Appeal, Michael Kelley, did a glowing front page story on the growing TFA presence (thanks to the Walton Foundation) in Memphis, where over 42 percent of children live poverty and where black unemployment is almost 20 percent.  

To offer an example of Kelley's inaccurate reporting, there's this just under the fold:
Critics have long contended that TFA, which trains its teachers for the classroom in less than a year, is doing students a disservice when many of its teachers choose to move on after getting a taste of chalk.  
Really, less than a year?  How technically true can one reporter get!, for certainly the 5 weeks that TFA recruits prepare is less than a year.  And of that 5 weeks, less than 20 days is practice teaching.

And no, Michael Kelley, critics of TFA are not crying so much about these white privileged girls leaving after their two year stint.  Please leave.  We are screaming about the fact that the corporate reform losers running Memphis Schools are insisting on hiring them in the first place, particularly in schools that need most desperately the kind of mature, caring, and competent teachers that TFA can never provide, regardless of these eager youngsters' "enchantment" with teaching.  

So Michael Kelley, please do read this article from a TFA member, Olivia Blanchard, who wasn't so enchanted or allured by her complete lack of preparation for teaching 20 very needy children whose needs are not being met by well-intentioned missionaries who are being fed a thick sheaf of lies produced in the corporate think tanks.  Here are the intro paragraphs from The Atlantic:

I am sitting in a comfortable gold folding chair inside one of the many ballrooms at the Georgia International Convention Center. The atmosphere is festive, with a three-course dinner being served and children playing a big-band number. The kids are students at a KIPP academy in Atlanta, and they are serenading future teachers on the first night of a four-day-long series of workshops that will introduce us to the complicated language, rituals, and doctrines we will need to adopt as Teach for America "Corps Members." 
The phrase closing the achievement gap is the cornerstone of TFA's general philosophy, public-relations messaging, and training sessions. As a member of the 2011 corps, I was told immediately and often that 1) the achievement gap is a pervasive example of inequality in America, and 2) it is our personal responsibility to close the achievement gap within our classrooms, which are microcosms of America's educational inequality. 
These are laudable goals. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, white fourth-graders performed better than their black peers on 2007 standardized mathematics exams in all 46 states where results were available. In 2004, there was a 23-point gap in mathematics scale scores between white and black 9-year-olds, with the gap growing to 26 points for 13-year-olds. 
But between these two messages lies the unspoken logic that current, non-TFA teachers and schools are failing at the task of closing the achievement gap, through some combination of apathy or incompetence. Although TFA seminars and presentations never explicitly accuse educators of either, the implication is strong within the program's very structure: recruit high-achieving college students, train them over the summer, and send them into America's lowest-performing schools to make things right. The subtext is clear: Only you can fix what others have screwed up. It was an implication I noticed when an e-mail I received during Institute, the five-week training program, referring to “a system of students who have simply not been taught.” The e-mail explained, “That’s really what the achievement gap is—for all of the external factors that may or may not add challenges to our students’ lives—mostly it is that they really and truly have not been taught and are therefore years behind where they need to be.”

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