Here’s an Idea: Guarantee Every Child an Excellent Education

Little African Girl At Wooden Fence With Thumbs Up.

Let’s get one thing straight: there are plenty of things wrong with America’s school system. But they almost all stem from one major error.

We don’t guarantee every child an excellent education.

Instead, we strive to guarantee every child THE CHANCE at an excellent education. In other words, we’ll provide a bunch of different options that parents and children can choose from – public schools, charter schools, cyber schools, voucher schools, etc.

Some of these options will be great. Some will be terrible. It’s up to the consumer (i.e. parents and children) to decide which one to bet on.

In many places this results in children bouncing from school-to-school. One school is woefully deficient, they enroll in another one. One school closes suddenly, they start over again at another.

It’s terribly inefficient and does very little good for most children.

But that’s because it’s not designed with them in mind. It does not put the child first. It puts the education provider first.

It is a distinctly privatized system. As such, the most important element in this system is the corporation, business, administrator or entrepreneurial entity that provides an education.

We guarantee the businessperson a potential client. We guarantee the investor a market. We guarantee the hedge fund manager a path to increased equity. We guarantee the entrepreneur a chance to exploit the system for a profit.

What we do NOT guarantee is anything for the students. Caveat emptor – “Let the buyer beware.”

Imagine if, instead, we started from this proposition: every child in America will be provided with an excellent education.

Sound impossible? Maybe. But it’s certainly a better goal than the one we’re using.

And even if we somehow managed to do it – even if every school was excellent – that doesn’t mean every child would become a genius. You can only provide the basis for an excellent education; it is up to the individual learner – with help from parents, teachers, and other stakeholders – to take advantage of what is put before him or her.

That is not a crazy goal to have. Nor does it mean that education would necessarily become stagnated.

It doesn’t matter what kind of school students go to – it matters that each and every school that receives public funding must be excellent.

That doesn’t mean they each must be excellent in the same ways. One wouldn’t expect them to be carbon copies of each other. Students have different needs. One would expect each classroom and each teacher to be doing different things at different times.

However, there are some things that are universal. There are some principles that are just better than others. Here are four:

First, it is better for schools receiving public funding to have to spend that money openly. They shouldn’t be able to spend that money behind closed doors without any public scrutiny or accountability.

Second, it’s better that the majority of the decisions made about how the school is run are made in public by duly-elected school board members drawn from the community, itself. That is much more preferable to political appointees who are not accountable to the parents and community.

Third, it is better if a school cannot deny a student enrollment based on that student’s special needs, race, religion, creed, sexual orientation, academic record or other factors. If the school receives public funds, it should not be allowed to turn anyone away.

Finally, it is better if a school teaches material that is academically appropriate, generally accepted as mainstream core concepts of the subject and Constitutional. Schools funded with tax money should not teach religious concepts like Creationism. They should not teach history and science from a Biblical point of view. They should not teach racial, sexual and religious discrimination.

None of these four principles should really be controversial. But each of them is violated by our current education system.

Some voucher schools violate the latter proposition. The other three are often violated by charter, cyber and voucher schools.

The only type of school that does not routinely violate these propositions is traditional public schools. Yet that is also the type of school being consistently undermined by most of our current educational policies.

So if we start from the idea that every student should get an excellent education, we start with the proposition to support and renew our public schools.

In doing so, we would need a national commitment to bringing every public school up to snuff.

Many of them already are – Hint: they’re found in rich neighborhoods. The ones that struggle are almost always found in poorer neighborhoods, and that’s no accident. It’s the result of savage funding inequalities.

What we’d need to do is ensure schools serving impoverished students receive equitable funding compared with schools serving the middle class and wealthy kids. Impoverished students must by necessity receive as much funding as the privileged ones. In fact, given the deprivations and increased needs of impoverished students, they should actually receive more funding. Middle class and rich kids have academic advantages over poor kids before they even enter kindergarten. They have more books in the home, more educated parents, better nutrition, better neonatal care, and often more stable home environments. If we really committed ourselves to making sure even these kids got the best possible education, we’d need to start spending more money on them.

Next, we’d need to do something about school segregation. Our public school system is now almost as segregated – and in some places even more segregated – than it was before the landmark Brown vs. Board decision 50 years ago. The only way to guarantee everyone an excellent education is to make it increasingly difficult to hurt some students without hurting all. There is no separate but equal. When we keep students apart by race or class, we ensure inequality among them.

And perhaps most important is this: we must remove the profit principle from education. We cannot allow decisions to be made based on what is best for corporations. Academic decisions about how to teach, how to assess student learning and how to assess teaching should be made by professional classroom educators.

This means no more high stakes standardized testing. No more Common Core. No more depersonalized computer-based learning. No more value added measures used to evaluated teachers. No more union busting. No more Teach for America.

We need to start valuing teachers and teaching again. And we need to pay and treat them as one of the most valuable parts of our society.

These measures would not be easy to accomplish, but they would have an immense impact on our schools.

This would require a substantial outlay of additional funding. We could save money by discontinuing costly practices that don’t benefit children (i.e. testing, charter and voucher funding, etc.). But make no mistake, it would cost money. However, we’re one of the richest countries in the world. We spend a ridiculous amount already on the military. You’re telling me we can’t find the money to spend on our children? If we’re not willing to spend on our future, we don’t deserve to have one.

It requires only a change in focus, a reevaluation of our priorities and goals.

Education should not be market driven. It should be student driven.

We should no longer guarantee business a class of consumers.

Instead, every student in this country no matter if they are rich or poor, black or white, male or female, gay or straight, religious or not – every student should be guaranteed an excellent education.

It’s really that simple.

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Always Be Testing – The Sales Pitch for Corporate Education Reform

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(After the “Brass Balls” speech in “Glengarry Glen Ross,” by David Mamet.)

 

(Rated PG-13 for language)

 

(Interior: a public school classroom during an after school staff meeting. Teachers are seated at student desks including Singer, Moss and Aaronow. Williamson, a middle school principal, stands in front of the room flanked by Blake, a motivational speaker brought in by the state. Singer is furiously grading papers. The other teachers are pleasantly chatting about trifles before Blake calls the gathering to attention.)

 

[Blake]
Let me have your attention for a moment! So you’re talking about what? You’re talking about that kid you failed, some son of a bitch who doesn’t want to pass, some snot-nosed brat you’re trying to remediate and so forth. Let’s talk about something important. Are they all here?

 

[Williamson]
All but one.

 

[Blake]
Well, I’m going anyway. Let’s talk about something important! (to Singer) Put that colored marker down!

 

[Singer]

But I’m grading papers…

 

(Blake)

I said Put that marker down! Markers are for testers only.

 

(Singer scoffs)

 

[Blake]

Do you think I’m fucking with you? I am not fucking with you. I’m here from downtown. I’m here from the Governor and the Legislature. And I’m here on a mission of mercy. Your name’s Singer?

 

[Singer]
Yeah. Mister Singer, actually.

 

[Blake]
You call yourself a teacher, you son of a bitch?

 

[Moss]

I don’t have to listen to this.

 
[Blake]
You certainly don’t, Madam. Cause the good news is – you’re fired. The bad news is you’ve got, all you got, just one week to regain your jobs, starting today. Starting with today’s meeting.

 

[Moss]

What!? The union contract doesn’t allow you to just fire us all without cause.

 

[Blake]

Union!? There ain’t no more union! This is a Right to Work state now, Bitch. And that means you have the right to work – for less – until I fire your sorry ass.

 

(Assorted grumbling)

 

[Blake]

Oh, have I got your attention now? Good. Cause we’re adding a little something to this month’s merit pay. As you all know, the teacher whose students get the highest test scores gets a bonus. First prize is a thousand bucks. Anyone want to see second prize? Second prize is a box of pencils. Third prize is you’re fired. You get the picture? You’re laughing now?

 

[Singer]

That’s ridiculous. Mrs. Moss teaches the advanced kids. All her students get high test scores.

 

[Blake]

What? And your kids are in the general track? They don’t get high test scores? Then step it up, Singer! You want to get a paycheck in this district, you’ve got to earn a paycheck. You got test prep manuals. The school board paid good money for them. Get those workbooks so your kids can pass the test!

 

[Singer]

Workbooks!? That’s not learning?

 

[Blake]

That’s where you’re wrong. Workbooks are the only learning that counts! Kids take the tests that show whether you’re doing your fucking jobs! You want to keep working here? You want to keep sucking at the public tit? You get those kids to pass the motherfucking tests. And those workbooks do that. They teach kids how to pass the motherfucking tests!

 

[Singer]

But my kids are all from poor homes. They’re malnourished. They don’t get the same medical care. There are no books in their homes. Many of them suffer from PTSD from abuse or exposure to violence….

 

[Blake]

And you think they deserve some kind of entitlement? A medal? Fuck them and fuck you! Let me make one thing perfectly clear – If you can’t get your students to pass shit, you ARE shit, hit the bricks, Pal, and beat it cause you are going out!

 

[Singer]

Are you kidding me right now? You want my students to pass these tests. The tests are unfair. They’re economically and culturally biased. The connection between the tests and learning is weak.

 

[Blake]
The fucking tests are weak? You’re weak. I’ve been in this business for fifteen weeks.

 

[Moss]
Fifteen weeks? Try thirty years.

 

[Blake]

Anyone who’s still a teacher after thirty years should be put to sleep. All you need is a year or two. That’s what I’m doing. Teach for America. Five weeks training, two year commitment, then move on to Washington where you can advise lawmakers on what schools need.

 

[Moss]

What’s your name?

 

[Blake]

Fuck you, that’s my name! You know why, Missy? Cause you drove a Hyundai to get to work. I drove an eighty thousand BMW. That’s my name.

 

[Singer]

I took the bus.

 

[Blake]

(To Singer) And your name is “you’re wanting.” You can’t play in a man’s game. You can’t teach them. (at a near whisper) And you go home and tell your wife your troubles.

(to everyone again) Because only one thing counts in this life! Get them to score above basic. Get them to demonstrate the minimum skills necessary!

 

[Singer]

What about what they think and feel?

 

[Blake]

No one gives a shit about what they think and feel. You hear me, you fucking faggots?

 

(Blake flips over a blackboard which has two sets of letters on it: ABT, and AITP.)

 

[Blake]

A-B-T. A- Always, B-be, T-testing. Always be testing! Always be testing!! A-I-T-P. Attention, interest, testing, passing. Attention — do I have your attention? Interest — are you interested? I know you are because it’s fuck or walk. Your kids pass or you hit the bricks! Testing – you will test those students by Christ!! And passing. A-I-T-P; get out there!! You got the students comin’ in; you think they came in to get out of the rain?

 

[Singer]

Actually, many of my students live in public housing down there by the railroad tracks. You know those slums? Roofs leak in half those units…

 

[Moss]

And for a lot of kids school is the only structure they get all day. Their parents are out working two to three jobs. They have to take care of themselves and often younger siblings.

 

[Singer]

And food. Don’t forget food. If it wasn’t for the free breakfast and lunch program, many of my kids wouldn’t eat…

 

[Blake]

Bullshit. A kid doesn’t walk into this school unless he wants to pass. That’s why they’re here! They want to learn! They’re sitting out there waiting to be told what to do. Are you gonna’ tell ‘em? Are you man enough to tell them?

 

[Moss]

I’m a woman. Most of us are women.

 

[Blake]

(to Moss) What’s the problem, Pal?

 

[Moss]

You think you’re such a hero, you’re so rich. Why are you coming down here and wasting your time on a bunch of bums?

 

(Blake sits and takes off his gold watch)

 

[Blake]
You see this watch? You see this watch?

 

[Moss]
Yeah.

 

[Blake]

That watch cost more than your SMART Board. (Takes off his shoe) You see this shoe? Italian. It costs more than your entire salary. (slicks back his hair) You see this haircut?

 

[Moss]

I get it.

 

[Blake]

Do you? Because I do. I made 26 million dollars last year. How much do you make? You see, Pal, that’s who I am. And you’re nothing. Nice person? I don’t give a shit. Good mother? Fuck you – go home and play with your kids!! (to everyone) You wanna work here? Test!! (to Aaronow) You think this is abuse? You think this is abuse, you cocksucker? You can’t take this — how can you take the abuse you get in a classroom?! You don’t like it — leave. I can go out there tomorrow with the materials you got, make myself a thousand dollars in merit pay! Tomorrow! In one class! Can you? Can you? Go and do likewise! A-I-T-P!! Get mad! You sons of bitches! Get mad!!

 

[Singer]

Oh, I’m mad. I’m mad that a shallow schmuck like you thinks he can come in here and tell us how to do our jobs. School is about so much more than test scores. You can’t reduce it all to a multiple choice assessment. These kids need a broad curriculum, not just reading and math. They need science, art, social studies, foreign language, recess – all the stuff the rich kids get at the $50,000 a year private schools. And all you want to give them are standardized tests!

 

[Blake]

You know what it takes to teach public school?

 

(He pulls something out of his briefcase. He’s holding up a hammer and a plastic model of a one-room schoolhouse. He puts the model down on Aaronow’s desk and then smashes it to pieces with the hammer.)



[Blake]
It takes school choice to teach in a public school. It takes charter and voucher schools, schools run like a business – not this mamby, pamby, commie, socialist shit!

 

[Moss]

Choice? Is that what you call letting private interests suck up public tax dollars without the same transparency and regulations as public schools? You mean schools not run by an elected school board, who meet in private and do almost whatever they please with our tax dollars? You mean schools that can turn away the hardest to teach children – unlike public schools that take everyone?

 

[Blake]
I’m talking about schools with balls!
(He puts the hammer over his crotch,– he puts it away after a pause)



[Blake]
You want a paycheck? Do like the choice schools do — Go and do likewise, folks. The money’s out there, you pick it up, it’s yours. You don’t–I have no sympathy for you. You wanna go into your classes tomorrow and test and get your kids to pass, it’s yours. If not you’re going to be shining my shoes. Bunch of losers sitting around in a bar. (in a mocking weak voice) “Oh yeah, I used to be a teacher, it’s a tough racket.” (he takes out a software package from his briefcase) This is the new Common Core aligned diagnostic system. It’s like the MAP, Study Island, iReady and iStation – only better.

 

[Singer]

Those programs suck.

 

[Blake]

This is better. With it, your students will sit behind a computer screen for several hours every day taking stealth assessments.

 

[Singer]

You mean mini-tests?

 

[Blake]

No. Not mini-tests. They’ll run through the program and get instruction on every Common Core standard and their answers will show how much they’ve learned.

 

[Singer]

They’re tests. Standardized tests. Every day.

 

[Blake]

This is the Pearson leads. And to you, it’s gold. And you don’t get it. Why? Because to give it to you is just throwing it away. (he hands the software to Williamson) It’s for testers. (sneeringly) Not teachers.

 

I’d wish you good luck but you wouldn’t know what to do with it if you got it. (to Moss as he puts on his watch again) And to answer your question, Pal: why am I here? I came here because the Governor and Legislature are paying me to be here. They’re paying me a lot more than you. But I don’t have to take their money. I can make that tying my shoes. They asked me for a favor. I said, the real favor, follow my advice and fire your fucking ass because a loser is a loser.

 

(He stares at Moss for a sec, and then picking up his briefcase, he leaves the room with Williamson)

 

[Singer]

What an asshole.

 

[Moss]

He may be an asshole but he’s got the state on his side.

 

[Aaronow]

This isn’t what I signed up for. This isn’t why I became a teacher.

 

[Moss]

What did you sign up for?

 

[Aaronow]

TO TEACH! Not to be some… some… glorified real estate agent!

 

[Singer]

It’s funny. We know how crazy all this testing, Common Core, and charter school crap is, but no one wants to hear us.

 

[Moss]

And now without collective bargaining, we can’t even speak up without fear of being fired.

 

[Aaronow]

Fear!? If we don’t push all this teaching to the test nonsense, they’re going to fire us. And if we do, they can replace us with computer programs. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

 

[Singer]

Not if people wake up. (Moss and Aaronow scoff) Not if the public takes a stand, if parents and teachers opt their kids out of the tests…

 

[Aaronow]

Didn’t you hear the man!? They’re putting the kids on computer programs to test them every day!

 

[Singer]

Then we fight every day. We protest every day. We get parents together and other concerned citizens and we go to the capital and we fight. Call your representative. Go to your Senator’s office. Stage a sit in. Hold a mock trial. Write a blog parodying a scene from a famous movie. Get public attention. Make some noise.

 

[Aaronow]

And you think people will care? You think people will know?

 

[Singer]

We’ll teach them. We’ll show them. That’s what we do.

 

[Moss]

We have no other choice.

 

[Aaronow]

Always be testing?

 

[Singer]

Always be teaching.

 

(Curtain)

 

The Original Scene from GlenGarry Glen Ross:

Standardizing Whiteness: the Essential Racism of Standardized Testing

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“As a method of social production, as well as social reproduction, standardized testing has had serious cultural implications, not the least of which has been the eternal question of American identity. Consistent with notions of American identity, standardized testing, as an opposition to a cultural other, represents the normalization of whiteness, richness, and maleness.”
-Andrew Hartman

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.”
-Toni Morrison

We talk about standardized testing as if we don’t really understand what it is.

We say we want No child left behind!

And then we pass a law named after that very sentiment that ensures some students MUST be left behind.

We say we want Every student to succeed!

And then we pass a law named after that very sentiment that ensures every student will NOT succeed.

It would be absurd if not for the millions of children being forced to endure the harsh reality behind our pretty words.

It’s not these ideals that are the problem. It’s standardized testing.

Researchers, statisticians, and academics of every stripe have called for an end to high stakes testing in education policy. Parents, students and teachers have written letters, testified before congressional committees, protested in the streets, even refused to take or give the tests. All to deaf ears.

The federal government still requires all students in 3-8th grade and once in high school to take standardized tests.

But these assessments are graded on a curve. A certain amount of students are at the bottom, a certain amount are at the top, and most are clustered in the middle. This would be true if you were testing all geniuses or all people with traumatic brain injuries.

It doesn’t matter how smart your test takers are. There will always be this bell curve distribution. That’s how the tests are designed. So to talk about raising test scores is nonsensical. You can raise scores at school A or School B, but the total set of all test takers will always be the same. And some students will always fail.

But that isn’t even the worst part.

Standardization, itself, has certain consequences. We seem to have forgotten what the term even means. It’s defined as the act of evaluating someone or something by reference to a standard.

This socket wrench is a good socket wrench because it most closely resembles some ideal socket wrench. This McDonald’s Big Mac is good because it resembles the ideal McDonald’s Big Mac.

That’s what we’re doing to people – children in fact. We’re evaluating them based on their resemblance to some ideal definition of what a child should know and what a child should be.

But children are not socket wrenches nor are they Big Macs. It is not so easy to reduce them to their component parts and say this is good and that is bad.

When you try to abstract them to that point, it is impossible to remove various essential factors of their identity – race, gender, socio-economic status, etc. Nor would it be admirable if you could, because you would have abstracted to the point where the individual is no longer visible or valued. A child raised in poverty is simply not the same as a child from a privileged upbringing. A child from a culture that values cooperation is not the same as a child from a culture that values individual achievement. And that’s often a good thing.

But when you define a standard, an ideal, you make certain choices – you privilege some attributes and denigrate others. Since the people creating the tests are almost exclusively upper middle class white people, it should come as no surprise that that is the measure by which they assess success.

Is it any wonder then that poor kids and children of color don’t score as well on these tests? Is it any wonder that upper middle class white kids score so well?

We’ve known this for almost a century. Standardized tests do a poor job of assessing intelligence or knowledge. Those things are too complex and the tests are too simple. If you’re evaluating something equally simple like basic addition and subtraction, these tests can work alright. But if you’re trying to get at something complex like critical thinking or creativity, they end up doing little more than prizing the way some people think and not others. In short, they elevate the thought processes most associated with rich white kids.

It doesn’t mean poor and/or black children are any less intelligent. It just means rich white kids have the things for which the test designers are looking. Some of this is due to economic factors like greater access to private tutoring, books in the home, parents with more time to read to their kids, coming to school healthy and more focused. However, a large portion is due to the very act of taking tests that are created to reflect white upper class values and norms.

Think about it. Almost all the questions are field tested before they become a permanent part of the exam. Students are given a question that doesn’t count to their final score, but test makers tabulate how many kids get it right or wrong. So when most white kids answer a field tested question correctly and most black kids get it wrong, it still becomes a permanent test question because there are so few blacks relative to whites. Maybe it’s a question that references sun tan lotion, something with which darker skinned people don’t have as much experience. Imagine if a question referencing the hair care practices of  black people became a test item. White people would have difficulty with it because they can’t easily relate. But the field testing process doesn’t allow that because it normalizes whiteness.

So black kids stumble while white kids have an easier time. We even have a name for it: the racial proficiency gap.

Many well-intentioned progressive voices have bemoaned this problem and wondered how to solve it. But it’s not the scores that are the problem. It’s the assessments. They are doing exactly what they were designed to do.

That’s right. You cannot have such obvious, historical problems perpetuated year-after-year, decade-after-decade, and still think they are mere unintended consequences.

This is how the system was designed to work. This is how it’s always been designed to work.

If you were going to create a racist and classist school system from scratch, what would you do? How would you go about it?

You’d need the lower classes to have SOME mediocre education so they are able to do the menial work that keeps society running. But only so much. Education as a social ladder is all well and good as propaganda. But you don’t want that ladder to lead out of the basement for more than a few.

You need something that will create a hierarchy with people of color at the bottom and poor whites only slightly better off so they can feel ennobled compared to their darker subordinates.

You need a biased sorting mechanism – something that allows you to put students into privileged and unprivileged categories but that will look to all the world like it was doing so fairly. It would have to appear like you were choosing students based on merit.

You’d need something like standardized test scores.

This is how these assessments have functioned from their very beginnings.

When Carl Brigham and Robert Yerkes, U.S. Army psychologists during WWI, designed the alpha and beta intelligence tests to determine which soldiers deserved to be officers, they were creating a pseudoscientific justification for white privilege. They used biased and unfair assessments to “prove” that rich white folks were best suited to give orders, and the rest of us belonged in the trenches.

Brigham and Yerkes were drawing upon eugenics, also called “racial hygiene” or “scientific racism.” This was a radical misreading of Gregor Mendel and Charles Darwin. Eugenicists thought positive traits such as intelligence were widespread in Northwestern European races and almost nonexistent in others. Moreover, negative traits such as laziness and criminality were common in nonwhites and almost absent in those same Northwestern Europeans.

“We should not work primarily for the exclusion of intellectual defectives but rather for the classification of men in order that they may be properly placed,” wrote Yerkes.

THIS is the basis of standardized testing.

After the war, Brigham took the same principles to create the Scholastic Aptitude Test or S.A.T. – in principle the same exam still taken by 2.1 million teenagers every year to ensure they get into their chosen college.

The test was further refined by fellow eugenicist Lewis Terman, Professor of Education at Stanford University and originator of the Stanford-Binet intelligence test. Together these three men created the foundations for the modern field of standardized testing. And make no mistake – its axiomatic principle is still that some races are genetically superior and others are inferior.

Or as Terman put it:

“A low level of intelligence is very common among Spanish-Indian and Mexican families of the Southwest and also among Negroes. Their dullness seems to be racial, or at least inherent in the family stocks from which they come… They constitute a grave problem because of their unusually prolific breeding.”

After WWII, the eugenicist brand suffered from comparison to the Nazis who had been inspired by the findings of Brigham, Yerkes and Terman among others. In the post war years, we’ve discarded the overtly racist language but kept the assessments. Yet they still function the same way – sorting out blacks and the poor while prizing the rich and white.

This information is not secret. It is not kept under lock and key in some hidden military base somewhere. It’s accessible to anyone with Internet access or a library card.
We ignore it, because otherwise it would destabilize the current power structure – the corporate education policies that drive school practices in our country. We close our eyes and pretend it isn’t happening.

But it is.

“Standardized tests are the last form of legalized discrimination in the US,” said Education and Psychology Prof. Phil Harris.

With them you can give rich and middle class whites every advantage while withholding the same from students of color. And we don’t call it racism or classism because we pretend the whites earned their privileges by their test scores.

“We are using the testocracy as a proxy for privilege,” said civil rights theorist Lanni Guinier. Test scores are the excuse for prejudicial and unjust practices that would be impossible without them.

For instance, if you really wanted to help someone who’s struggling, you might offer extra help. But low test scores are used as the reason for withholding that help. We actually use these invalid scores as a means of demeaning and firing poor black kids’ teachers – as if anything they could do could completely overcome biased assessments and poverty. In this way, we not only remove those already in place to help these kids, we ensure few people will volunteer to take their place.

And when you have a teacher shortage in these poor urban neighborhoods, you can use that to justify further deprivations. Instead of teachers with 4-year education degrees, you can hire lightly trained Teach for America temps – college grads who’ve taken no coursework in education beyond a six weeks cram session.

And if the parents of these children complain, you can open charter schools to pull a quick bait and switch. Make them feel like they have a choice when really you’re pulling the rug out from under them. You provide them with a school with none of the safeguards of a traditional public institution – no elected school board, no transparency on how tax dollars are spent, little oversight, a right to refuse any student they wish, etc. And when the school goes belly up, these kids will be pushed back to their former traditional public school that has had to make due with less funding and now can provide even fewer  services than it could before students jumped ship.

Using standardized test scores to judge not just students but whole schools, you can destabilize the entire system of public education. Charter schools and traditional public schools fight over ever-dwindling funding, one required to prove everything it does, the other able to do whatever it wants until it closes with little to no consequences for charter operators who take the money and run.

The US Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs Board that we can’t have “separate but equal” schools because when they’re separate, they’re rarely equal. But somehow that doesn’t apply to charter schools.

Somehow we’ve stopped caring about integration – one of the central victories of the Civil Rights movement! This plays right into the hands of the corporate education reformers. They have done everything they can to increase segregation because it makes it so much easier to privilege rich white kids and crush poor black ones.

They don’t want an equal mix of black and white, rich and poor in our schools. That would make it much harder to select against one class of student while boosting another.

They need to keep the races and classes as separate as possible. Charter schools help in this regard, but they would be insufficient without the help from many white families who flee from these “other” darker complected kids. It’s just another way to send more funding to white kids and less to poor black kids. They say it’s based on local property taxes. That way they can pretend it’s all fair and above board. Rich folks have a right to be able to give their kids the best, and if poor folks can’t afford to do the same, who do you expect to pick up the tab?

Oh! And let’s not forget setting “high academic standards” while all this is going on. They throw out everything that’s been working and come up with a Common Core of knowledge that all kids need to learn. Don’t include black and brown history, culture or the arts – just the stuff the business community thinks is valuable because they know so much about what’s really important in life. And have the whole thing written up by non-educators and non-psychologists and don’t bother testing it out to make sure it works.

Your rich white kids will have no problem jumping through these hoops. But your poor black and brown kids will stumble and fall – just as planned.

This is what has become of our public schools.

This is corporate education reform.

This is our racist, classist school system.

And it’s all based on standardized testing – a perfectly legal system of normalizing rich whiteness.

Co-opting the Language of Authentic Education: The Competency Based Education Cuckoo

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Cuckoo!

 

Cuckoo!

 

Such is the incessant cry of the hour from one of the most popular souvenirs of the black forest of Germany – the cuckoo clock.

 

Time is demarcated by the chirp of an 18th century animatronic bird jumping forward, moving a wing or even opening its beak before making its distinctive cry.

 

However, in nature the cuckoo has a more sinister reputation.

 

It’s one of the most common brood parasites.

 

Instead of investing all the time and energy necessary to raise its own young, many varieties of cuckoo sneak their eggs into the nests of other birds. When the baby cuckoos hatch, they demand an increasing amount of their clueless foster parents’ care often resulting in neglect of the birds’ own children.

 

Parental care is co-opted. The love and affection natural to raise parent birds’ own children are diverted to another source. And the more parent birds try to help the interloper’s child, the less they can help their own.

 

Corporate education reformers must be bird lovers. Or at very least they must enjoy antique cuckoo clocks.

 

In fact, one could describe the entire standardization and privatization movement as a Homo sapien version of brood parasitism.

 

Profiteers co-opt authentic education practices so that they no longer help students but instead serve to enrich private corporations.

 

When parents, teachers and administrators unwittingly engage in corporate school reform strategies to help students learn, they end up achieving the opposite while the testing industry and charter school operators rake in obscene profits.

 

But some of us have seen through the scam, and we think it’s cuckoo.

 

We’ve seen this kind of bait and switch for years in the language used by oligarchs to control education policy. For instance, the defunct federal No Child Left Behind legislation had nothing to do with making sure no kids got left behind. It was about focusing obsessively on test and punish even if that meant leaving poor kids in the rear view.

 

Likewise, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program has nothing to do with quickening the pace to academic excellence. It’s about glorifying competition among students while providing them inequitable resources. Teach for America has very little to do with teaching or America. It’s about underpreparing poor children with unqualified instructors and giving cover to privatization operatives. School Choice has nothing to do with giving parents educational alternatives. It’s about letting privatized schools choose which students they want to admit so they can go through the motions of educating them as cheaply as possible and maximize profits for shareholders.

 

And on and on.

 

The latest such scheme to hoodwink communities out of authentic learning for their children is Competency Based Education (CBE) a term used interchangeably with Proficiency Based Education (PBE). Whatever you call it, this comes out to the same thing.

 

Like so many failed policy initiatives that came before it offered by the same group of think tank sycophants, its name belies the truth. CBE and PBE have nothing to do with making children competent or proficient in anything except taking computer-based tests.

 

That’s what the whole program consists of – forcing children to sit in front of computers all day at school to take unending high stakes mini-tests. And somehow this is being sold as a reduction in testing when it’s exactly the opposite.

 

This new initiative is seen by many corporate school reformers as the brave new world of education policy. The public has soundly rejected standardized tests and Common Core. So this is the corporate response, a scheme they privately call stealth assessments. Students will take high stakes tests without even knowing they are doing it. They’ll be asked the same kinds of multiple-choice nonsense you’d find on state mandated standardized assessments but programmers will make it look like a game. The results will still be used to label schools “failing” regardless of how under-resourced they are or how students are suffering the effects of poverty. Mountains of data will still be collected on your children and sold to commercial interests to better market their products.

 

The only difference is they hope to trick you, to hide that it’s even happening at all. And like a cuckoo pushing its egg into your nest, they hope you’ll support what’s in THEIR best interests while working against what would really help your own children.

 

And the method used to achieve this deception is co-opting language. They’d never enact what real classroom teachers want in school, but they will take our language and use it to clothe their own sinister initiatives in doublespeak.

 

So we must pay attention to their words and tease out what they really mean.

 

For instance, they describe CBE as being “student-centered.” And it is – in that their profit-making machine is centered on students as the means of sucking up our tax dollars.

 

They talk about “community partnerships,” but they don’t mean inviting parents and community members into the decision making process at your local school. They mean working together with your local neighborhood privatization firm to make big bucks off your child. Apple, Microsoft, Walmart – whatever huge corporation can sell computers and iPads to facilitate testing every day.

 

 

They talk about “personalized instruction,” but there’s nothing personal in it. This just means not allowing students to progress on their computer programs until they have achieved “mastery” of terrible Common Core standards. If standardized testing is a poor form of assessment, these edu-programs are worse. They don’t measure understanding. They measure zombie cognitive processes – the most basic surface type of spit-it-back to me answers.

 

And if that isn’t bad enough, such an approach subtly suggests to kids that learning is only valuable extrinsically. We don’t learn for intrinsic reasons like curiosity. We lean to get badges on the program, to progress forward in the game and compulsively collect things – like any good consumer should.

 

Today’s children already have problems socializing. They can more easily navigate cyber relationships than real flesh-and-blood interactions. And CBE will only make this worse. Not only will children continue to spend hours of after-school time on-line, the majority of their school day will be spent seated at computer terminals, isolated from each other, eyes focused on screens. And every second they’ll be monitored by that machine – their keystrokes, even the direction their eyes are looking!

 

I’m not making this up! It shows engagement, tenacity, rigor – all measurable, quantifiable and useful to justify punishing your school.

 

They call it “one-to-one computer technology.” Yes, each child will be hooked up to one device. But how does that alone help them learn? If every child had a book, would we call it one-to-one book access? They call it “blended learning” because it mixes instruction from a living, breathing person with sit-and-stare computer time. It sounds like a recipe. I’ll blend the sugar and milk until I have a nice whipped cream. But it conceals how much time is spent on each.

 

Don’t get me wrong. There are effective uses of technology in schools. But this is not one of them.

 

Students can make Keynote presentations, record movies, design graphics, write programs, etc. But taking endless testing disguised as a video game adds nothing but boredom to their day. A few years ago, I was forced by administrators to put my own students on iStation twice a week. (I’ve since convinced them to let us be.) In any case, when we used the program, it would have been more effective had we called it nap time. At least then my kids wouldn’t have felt guilty about sleeping through it.

 

The corporate education reformers are trying to sneak all of this under our noses. They don’t want us to notice. And they want to make it harder to actually oppose them by stealing our words.

 

When public school advocates demand individualized learning for their children, the testocracy offers us this sinister CBE project. When we decry annual testing, they offer us stealth assessment instead.

 

We must continue to advocate for learning practices that work. We can’t let them steal our language, because if we do, they’ll steal our ability to engage in authentic learning.

 

And to do that, we must understand the con. We have to deny the technocrats their secrecy, deny them access to our children as sources of profit.

 

We must guard our nests like watchful mama birds.

 

The cuckoos are out there.

 

They are chirping in the darkness all around us.

 

Don’t let them in.

New PAC Descends on Pittsburgh Public Schools to Charterize and Take Over School Board

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Prepare yourself, Pittsburgh.

A new Political Action Committee (PAC) has descended on the ‘Burgh to further privatize our public schools and wrest control away from parents who are in favor of school reforms that actually work.

It’s called Campaign for Quality Schools, but make no mistake. The wealthy special interests behind it don’t care about quality schools – they care about quality profits for their investors.

PACs are political committees organized for the purpose of raising and spending money to elect and defeat candidates. Unlike federal PACS which can only give up to $5,000 to a candidate per election, state PACs in Pennsylvania have no spending limits. In that way, they are like federal Super PACs which also have no limits on donation size.

Besides giving an unfair advantage to special interest groups, PACS also have notoriously been used for nefarious ends. For instance, former Republican U.S. Rep. John Doolittle’s leadership PAC paid 15% to a firm that only employed his wife. One Leadership PAC purchased $2,139 in gifts from the Bose Corporation. Former Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo used his leadership PAC to pay almost $23,000 in hotel bills and buy $320 in baseball tickets for donors.

And now we’ve got one in Pittsburgh with its sights on city schools.

The moneyed interests behind it want to swipe control of even more Pittsburgh schools away from the community and give them to for-profit companies in the shape of charter schools. Since charter school boards are appointed, not democratically elected, this means the decisions about how these newly charterized schools operate would be made behind closed doors out of public view. The community would have no way to hold them accountable. Likewise, this means operators could spend taxpayer money however they want with little to no oversight. They would have nearly unlimited power to reduce student services and pocket the savings as profit.

THAT’S what they mean by “Quality” schools.

The PAC is run by the usual suspects of Pittsburgh corporate school reformers.

In 2015, four of the nine Pittsburgh School Director seats were up for grabs and voters sided in all cases against candidates running on a standardization and privatization platform. One of these losers is Kirk Burkley. He lost against Lynda Wrenn for school board and now is listed as chairman of the political action committee.

Though Burkley well outspent Wrenn, voters made it clear they didn’t want the lawyer specializing in bankruptcy, restructuring and creditors rights anywhere near our public schools. He only got 19% of the vote. Apparently Pittsburghers want candidates who support well-resourced community schools, positive discipline policies with supports, etc. But a host of wealthy investors behind this PAC must feel otherwise. They know better than you and me.

The PAC’s treasurer is Cate Reed, our own Teach for America (TFA) recruiter. Perhaps she took it personally when the newly elected school board overturned a decision by its predecessors to contract with TFA for three-years and pay $750,000. This is one of the few times – if not the only time –this has happened across the nation. Reed is also a Broad Center residency recipient. Established by billionaire Eli Broad, the Broad Center runs an unaccredited training program for school leaders, where candidates learn Broad’s philosophy of school management. Broad has no education experience. He is a self-proclaimed expert, a businessman who made his billions in home-building, mortgage lending, and insurance (AIG).

On the Broad alumni page, Reed speaks about making sure every child has an opportunity to succeed, especially students of color in low income communities.

“The Broad Residency affords me the opportunity to be a part of the change I wish to see—and to use my skills to pursue my wildest dream of educational equity,” she says.

The problem she identifies is real. However, her solution is ludicrous. You don’t provide better opportunities for poor black children by making the leaders of their schools unaccountable to the public. You don’t help poor black kids by removing qualified teachers from their classrooms and replacing them with lightly trained Teach for America recruits. You don’t help poor black kids by giving them an endless series of culturally and economically biased standardized tests and ignoring the fact that they receive substantially less resources than their richer, whiter peers.

Leigh Halvorson, one of the managers of the Heinz Endowment, gave the PAC a boost soliciting donations. She sent an email in early March asking for money. I’ll post the entire email below, but here is Halverson’s description of the PAC:

“I am proud to be part of a group that is launching Campaign for Quality Schools-Pittsburgh, a bi-partisan Political Action Committee that is committed to supporting candidates of any political party who (1) believe that all children, regardless of their background can succeed; (2) embrace policies that hasten the growth of high-performing schools that serve all children; and (3) have the courage to challenge the status quo and tackle this problem with fierce urgency and determination.”

In other words, she’s looking for folks willing to (1) pay lip service to helping kids while actively working to hurt them, (2) will work to privatize more Pittsburgh schools and (3) are willing to run for office counter to the emphatic will of Pittsburgh voters who soundly rejected the corporate school reform agenda in the last election.

Halvorson continued:

“Our kick-off event on March 2nd at 5:30 pm, at the home of Cate Reed and Doug Anderson, will feature State Representative Jake Wheatley, from District 19 here in Pittsburgh who embodies these principles.”

Wheatley, a Democrat, has been a longtime supporter of charter schools and an enemy of public school teachers. He is one of only two Democrats to vote a bill out of the House Education Committee that was meant to eliminate due process for teachers. The bill has been languishing in the legislature, but if approved, it would allow teachers to be fired for almost any reason. It would eliminate the provision that teachers cannot be furloughed for “economic reasons.” (NOTE: it could come up for a vote any day now.)

Wheatley also teamed up with Republican House Speaker Mike Turzai to hold a roundtable discussion praising charter schools and the need to increase them in the city. He joined Turzai again in January for a school choice rally in Harrisburg.

Halvorson closed her email like this:

“If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate, please see the attached invite for instructions how you can do that.”

The invite asked for donations of between $50 and $250 per person.

Reed and Halvorson are both on the board of A+ Schools – Pittsburgh Community Alliance for Public Education. The organization serves an advisory position to help improve city schools. Though the organization includes people on both sides of the standardization and privatization movement, it has been co-opted in recent years by a $1 million grant from the Gates Foundation given between 2011 and 2013. Since the grant, the organization went from issuing an annual “Report to the Community” on the state of city schools to pushing for corporate education reform measures such as doing away with teacher seniority. Many disillusioned volunteers now consider it to be a paid proxy for Gates to make it appear his pet projects are supported by communities.

Like most urban districts, Pittsburgh Public Schools is struggling because of lack of resources. If you live in a poor neighborhood, your school gets less money from local taxes to help kids learn. Moreover, the district has lost almost $1 billion annually in state funding for the last five years. Living in poverty increases the need for wraparound social services, tutoring, nutrition and counseling that isn’t present for more affluent kids. But there’s no money to help them, and it’s hard for students to concentrate on school when they’re experiencing food insecurity and post traumatic stress. Likewise, state and federal education policies are giving an increasing portion of our shrinking funding to charter schools while forcing the traditional public schools to give new and more difficult standardized tests and enact unproven and developmentally inappropriate academic standards. If these corporate education reformers actually wanted to improve Pittsburgh schools, they’d focus on the real problems – not make wild attempts to grab more money for charter schools, deprofessionalize our kids’ teachers and grab power for themselves.

It’s unclear how many people showed up to the PACs kickoff fundraising event and how much money the PAC took in. But one thing is certain – consider yourself on notice, Pittsburgh.

After being defeated for school board and after the board rejected Teach for America, the corporate education reformers are preparing to strike back.

They are gathering people and resources to take the five school board seats up for re-election in 2017.

Will we let them steamroll over us with their big money and political connections or will we continue to fight for reforms that actually help our children?

It’s up to you, n’at.


Halverson’s email:

Dear friends,

The single most important civil rights issue facing our country is the disparity in our education system. We have far too many children who are trapped in persistently failing schools, Here in Pittsburgh alone, 23 of the 52 PPS schools are performing in the bottom 15% in the state. It is unacceptable. We know we can do better because we’ve seen it — transformative school exists that are proving that poverty is not destiny- and we need more of them, right here in Pittsburgh. I am proud to be part of a group that is launching Campaign for Quality Schools-Pittsburgh, a bi-partisan Political Action Committee that is committed to supporting candidates of any political party who (1) believe that all children, regardless of their background can succeed; (2) embrace policies that hasten the growth of high-performing schools that serve all children; and (3) have the courage to challenge the status quo and tackle this problem with fierce urgency and determination. Our kick-off event on March 2nd at 5:30pm, at the home of Cate Reed and Doug Anderson, will feature State Representative Jake Wheatley, from District 19 here in Pittsburgh who embodies these principles. I know for some of you, political contributions or political action is unfamiliar, so if you have questions or just want to talk further about why we believe groups like this can make a real impact on the future of our city and on behalf of our little people, don’t hesitate to reach out. My cell phone is 503.320.2384. I hope you can join us in supporting policymakers that put students and families first. Please see the attached invitation for more details and drop Cate or I a quick email if you can attend. If you are unable to attend, but would like to donate, please see the attached invite for instructions how you can do that. If you know people that should be invited to this event, please share their emails with us ASAP. Any questions can be directed to campaignqualityschoolspgh@gmail.com. I hope to see you on March 2nd.

Rick Smith – Smuggling Teachers Voices Through the Media Embargo

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I met Rick Smith for the first time in person this summer in Washington, D.C.

He had traveled to our nation’s capital to cover the Badass Teachers Association (BATs) Congress of which I was a member. Though I’d seen pictures and videos of him and even been on his daily radio show a handful of times, I was surprised to see him standing there in the lobby. He looked exactly like his pictures.

Often when you meet someone like that in the flesh, you get a glimpse behind the mask at how much the persona differs from the person. For example, when I was a journalist and interviewed Marvin Hamlisch, he was much more the cranky old man than the consummate showman.

But Rick was just… Rick. Faded denim, golf shirt, tousled hair under a ball cap.

He treated me to breakfast in the hotel restaurant and we talked about politics, activism and education. In a way it was like being on his show except there was no audience. Maybe he didn’t speak as loud and didn’t feel the need to explain the background of a subject for listeners at home, no station identification, but other than that it was pretty much the same.

He’s the real deal. What you see – or usually hear – is what you get.

I remember thanking him for trucking all the way from northern Pennsylvania to be here with us. He wasn’t getting anything extra for this. We certainly didn’t have any money to pay him. Rick was actually interested in hearing what teachers like me had to say.

We had congregated here in the capital to lobby our lawmakers and discuss among ourselves how to change our national education policy into something more student centered and less privatized, corporatized and standardized. And Rick wanted to showcase it on his show. He wanted to be there, to see what we were doing, ask us questions and put it all on the air for listeners across the country.

And – of course – he bought me breakfast.

As I was making my way through a waffle, Rick dropped the bomb on me.

He wanted to know if there was more to this story – if there was enough information for a weekly radio segment.

I carefully swallowed and told him that there was.

We’re living at a time when what’s best for school children isn’t decided by parents or educators. It’s decided by lawmakers, policy wonks, billionaire philanthropists and corporate CEOs with oodles of cash to bribe others to see things their way. Teachers, parents and students are taking to the streets to protest high stakes standardized tests, Common Core, value-added evaluations, charter schools, Teach for America and a host of other corporate education reform policies.

But few in the media seem to be listening.

In the last year, only nine percent of guests discussing education on evening cable news were educators. Yet tech millionaires attempts to dismantle teacher tenure are championed by the likes of Time Magazine. Former CNN anchor Campbell Brown creates a so-called “non-partisan” news site to cheerlead privatization and demonize teachers. At the Republican Presidential debates, candidates fall over each other for the chance to “punch teachers in the face,” while the Democratic Presidential candidates have zero to say about K-12 schools.

And here’s a guy with his own radio show and podcast who is actually interested in what educators think!

We shook hands, made plans and another trip to the buffet.

Now it’s been a little more than two months since the “BATs Radio – This Week in Education” segment premiered. Every week – usually airing Mondays at 5 p.m. Eastern – Rick has two guests chosen by the BATs. And wow! Have we had some amazing interviews!

When the National Education Association (NEA) made the controversial move to endorse Hillary Clinton despite a lack of member outreach, we had history teacher and NEA Board of Directors member Tripp Jeffers on the show. Before the vote, Tripp asked Clinton about her ties to corporate education reformers.

We had New York teacher and Co-Director of BATs Action Committee Michael Flanagan on to talk first hand about what a dismal job our new US Secretary of Education John King had done as Chancellor of New York State Education.

New Orleans parent Karran Harper Royal explained how the Obama administration’s privatization scheme has systematically destroyed public schools in the Big Easy. Wayne Au talked about what it was like to be one of the appellants in the Washington State Supreme Court Case that found charter schools to be unconstitutional. New York parent Karen Sprowal described how the Success Academy charter school had trampled her child’s rights. Jeanette Taylor-Ramann explained what pushed her and several other Chicago parents and teachers to go on a hunger strike to save their last neighborhood school. Puerto Rican teachers union president Mercedes Martinez informed us of the massive island revolt against privatizers in our US territory.

And more and more and more! And it’s only been 8 weeks!

I am so thankful to Rick for making this a reality. Teacher, parent and student voices are getting through the media embargo. We’re being heard. It’s unfiltered news! It’s what’s happening at street level.

This wouldn’t be getting out there so prominently if Rick weren’t interested, if he didn’t think it was something his listeners were interested in hearing. He gives up a significant chunk of his weekends to do it. He gives up time with his family, his children, to bring this to the public.

I can’t express how much that means to me and the more than 56,000 members of BATs.

I remember thanking Rick at the end of that first breakfast meeting and I’ll never forget what he said.

“This is what we do, Steven,” he said. “We’re activists first.”

That’s why Rick Smith is a true progressive hero.


NOTE:

You can hear the BATs Radio – This Week in Education segment most Mondays at 5 p.m. Eastern on the Rick Smith Show. The entire progressive talk show airs weekdays from 3 – 6 p.m. on several radio stations and on-line.

All BATs Radio interviews are archived here in case you missed them.

There are also a plethora of fascinating interviews from the BAT Congress on the Rick Smith Show Website.

This article also was published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.

Teach for America Deletes Educator Counter-Narratives; Educators Repost EVERY SINGLE ONE!

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On Sept. 23, Teach for America (TFA) published an article on its Website about the “Badass Women of Teach for America.”

Many of the more than 56,000 members of the Badass Teachers Association (BATS) commented on this article.

A few days later, all comments were deleted and the ability to make any additional comments was disabled. TFA then published two additional articles about the comments BATS had made. The authors of these new articles then attempted to debunk what had been written about them but was too dangerous to be left for their readers to see for themselves.

The counter-narratives of hundreds of people had been erased. But as any good public school teacher will tell you – nothing that is posted on the Internet is ever lost.

Below is every comment made on the original TFA article.

And, yes, I mean –

EVERY. SINGLE. COMMENT.


COMMENTS:

Badass Teachers don’t Teach For Awhile, they earn valid
credentials and commit their lives to public service. They speak
out against sham operations like TFA that pretend to have the
neediest of children at heart, but which really deprive them of
skilled professional guidance. I earned my M.Ed degree in 1990,
the year TFA crawled out of a dark hole…how many TFAers who
began that year remain as active educators? Badass is as badass
does.
David Sudmeier,
Redmond Middle School
WA State Badass Teachers


Bad? Yes! Badass? Definitely not! While there are a few
exceptions, TFA sends “teachers” into classrooms completely ill
prepared for the realities of teaching. MANY quit before the end
of the year. Few make it more than 2 years. They are
disillusioned, overwhelmed, ineffective, and soon become very
angry about the propaganda that landed them in the horrible
situation they find themselves in.
JD


If TFA wants to stop the bashing — why not actually try and
improve your program rather than airily dismiss the criticisms? I
am a professor who regularly seeing her students hired for TFA –
and trust me — these kids that go on to TFA are not ready to
teach anybody anything. They are totally clueless and have no
idea about the outside world other than academia and upper
middle class suburbia. These are kids who have spent the past
four years grade grubbing and cheerleading and organizing frat
parties. They all say very clearly that they do this to get into law
school. And then they are expected to actually teach other
human beings on a daily basis? Hey TFA — why not put your
teachers in white middle class school districts and see what the
response would be. I’m pretty sure it would be negative. Why? No
one wants a 23 year old with no life experience other than
running sorority rush to teach their kids in second grade.
Alana


TFA is totally NOT’ badass’. If TFA were, it would require its
recruits to take several courses, practicums, supervised trial
teachers with experienced mentors and have them take the
appropriate certification exams. Shame on you.
Robin P.


Hahahaha, tried to co-opt our skills as teachers, largely
failed(ing), now trying to co-opt our skills as activists, FAILING!
You are NOT teachers, nor badasses. True teachers stay and
make a difference! WE are teachers and badasses!
Karen Adlum


Shame on you, TFA. Badass Teachers are those with years of
training, education and experience, not some wide-eyed kids
who are given five weeks of training, brainwashed with feel-good
propaganda, and promised more money to help pay off student
loan debts.
Karen


The badasses are the teachers who stick it out instead of using
teaching as a steppingstone to a career in administration or ed.
policy. I’ve known a few TFAers who have stuck around for the
long haul, but most have left after some pretty shaky years as
fledgling educators. The former are badasses, the latter are not.
Badass Veteran


Sorry, TFA…..but you’re not badass. You use teaching as a
stepping stone; you think 5 WEEKS of training prepares you for
the classroom; you don’t support your recruits; and, worst of all,
you ENCOURAGE them to use their newfound “leadership skills”
to the detriment of children everywhere. Good work.
A trained teacher


I think maybe there is a misunderstanding. This is about kids, not
celebrating ourselves or our personal adult successes. This is
supposed to be about children and communities, especially the
marginalized and disenfranchised. I’m sorry (really) that you are
offended. We are fighting for OUR (yours too) children and this
democratic way of life. It’s impossible for someone who lacks
experience overtime to see the big picture. It just is. Veteran
teachers have that.
A Teacher


TFA is as far from BadAss as you can get. First you co-opt our
professional status with a 5 week training course of inspirational
YouTube videos, now your’re trying to co-opt the name of an
organization that exists to oppose you and all other education
deformers. Get a real teaching degree, TFA, and then we’ll talk.
Linda Meo


You have got to be kidding. You’re “bad ass” because you can
teach based on a five-week training course? You’re not qualified
to teach three-year-olds. What you are doing is trying to destroy
the public education system of this country for your own personal
profit in game for your own personal profit and gain. And for that
you should be ashamed. And don’t be surprised that we have NO
respect much less appreciation for you. Quit trying to co-op the
badass teachers association, the real BAT’s who are trying to
save publication in this country.. Being a copycat only actually
gives credit to the real organization that you’re correctly
acknowledging does an incredibly much better job than you do.
JoAnna Chocooj, BAT


Wow, I could go to school for less than one semester and be
qualified to teach? Why aren’t we doing this for medicine?
Because you could never learn enough in one summer to safely
and properly diagnos and treat patients in one summer. Why do
you devalue education so much that you think we can properly
serve our students with just a basic understanding and limited
exposure to educational and developmental theory. That’s not
badass, that’s bad practice.
SCG


Getting paid a mid six-figure salary to participate in the neoliberal
assault on public education is far from badass. Basass implies
fighting against the powers that be; TFA is embedded in the
power structures that uphold racism and growing economic
inequality. Teach For America is a central cog in the
anti-democratic, racist machine working to privatize public
education. Their influence has severely impacted the teaching
profession and worsened the educational experiences and
opportunities for our neediest students. In addition, badass
means putting yourself at risk, but these women have by and
large personally profited from their work in the education
industrial complex.

I agree with the other comments on this website. This post is an
affront to all the hard-working teachers, activists, and justice
seekers who have risked financial and even bodily harm to fight
against all that TFA stands for. I’m stealing what others have said,
“TFA is not badass, it’s just bad.”
Katie O


TFA is not helping our kids, but rather hurting our great
educational system. Assuming that someone can train for 5
weeks and then teach is a complete nonsensical idea. Kids and
schools are more complex than 5 weeks could ever train one for.
Teaching is an ART and not everyone is cut out for it, particularly
but TFA people. Shame on Wendy Kopp for doing nothing but
trying to PROFIT from our kids! This is not a fast food job. It is a
career dealing with the most precious resources we have: our
children. Go flip burgers but leave our kids alone! Shame on
these profiteers!!!
Allyson


Wow. TFA folks are far from badass. Teasing is the hardest thing
I’ve ever done and I have energy and intellect for miles. I went to
six funerals of my students last year. I teach sixth grade. I have
been at it for about 10 years. They think they’re badass for
serving to? If this piece of so-called journalism called any further
up the corporate butt hole, it would be rubbing against the uvula
of TFA itself. After all, aren’t corporations people?
John Simms


Yes, I know I said teasing instead of teaching. That’s what
happens on a Sunday morning when you are on your way
to feed a family of five. A family, I might add, is not my own.
John Simms


You know what’s really Badass? Remaining a committed teacher
in the face of tremendous adversity. This is something rarely seen
amongst the ranks of those who are working as “teachers” for
TFA.
Rebekah L


If I had known all I had to do to be badass was to study for a few
weeks and act like I knew what I was doing, I could have saved
myself a whole lot of grief, time, and money. If you REALLY cared
about the kids and not your own egos, you’d actually get an
education instead of teaching kids that it’s okay to take short cuts
as long as you’re “making difference.”
Susan G


Oh, please! The term “badass” is fitting for members of the
Badass Teachers Association. TFA is NOT badass in any way,
shape, or form. Go co-opt someone else’s movement!
APaar


Aren’t the real bad asses the children whose bodies and futures
these careers were “fueled” by? (Your word choice)
I think this is the type of op-ed that drives the people trying to do
good within TFA completely nuts. It’s is straight out of the
appropriate, self-promote and leave playbook that TFA claims to
not subscribe to.

Also the parts about TFA being more persecuted than any other
organization sound privileged as hell.
There are great stories in here. I deeply respect Packnett’s work.
But putting her next to Cunningham is really gross. This whole
framing is disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Xian


TFA is NOT “badass”. You are part of the corporate education
reform movement which Badass Teachers are fighting everyday.
You do not stand with teachers who have gone through
extensive training and have worked for years to help our children
to surmount the obstacles they face in their lives through
education provided by professionals. We are the long term
committed, tested by time and by the efforts of educational
deformers to tear down the teaching profession, public education
and community.
EGlynn


TFA stands for Teach For Awhile. Not doing our students any
good. Most TFA’s are just “warm bodies” for one or two years and
nothing more. They are teaching to pay off their loans.
Richard Martin


You are not “badass.” That label is for real teachers, who stand
with teachers. TFA are pawns for the coporate take-over of
education, most of whom never teach more than a few years to
have their loans forgiven and pad their resume. Shame.
David Topitzer


We can’t forget that our public education system was never
created to educate all children. Thus, it’s not broken; it’s doing
what it was created to do. If what activist and social critic James
Baldwin noted is true, “Education for whites is indoctrination.
Education for blacks is subjugation,” then the traditional public
system is colonial and TfA represents neo-colonialism. TfA is
entering its DNA into the education system at various levels. If
they were there to liberate my urban students, i would support
them, but since no TfA member I met (male or female) are
themselves liberated, I can’t. Wendy Kopp has no clue she’s just
got lots of social capital and money. The only purpose of the use
of “bad” in BAW by TfA is that they want to be “hip” and “cool” SO
bad.
John


I think woman achieving and being successful is great for all
women. I am curious to find out however how many TFA alum are
still teaching 5,10, and 15+ years versus how many leave
education to persue other fields. Real success for TFA will be
achieved when your great alumni continue long term the noble
profession of teaching.
K


Badass? Dumbass…….TFA needs to fold. You’re already folding
education.
Ron J


Who the hell is TFA to call themselves Badass? They are the
scabs in the education-field. They are the recipient of hedge fund
destroyers of public ed. They are the garbage that rich, mostly
white, entitled brats go to in order to move up the ladder and on
the backs of the urban and rural poor.
Myles Hoenig


Who inspires me to badass? My mother a career teacher who
didn’t receive 5 weeks of training, teach for 2 years then leave
the classroom to go to the upper echelons of your organization
to get big bucks while leaving countless children and an entire
generation with a substandard education. A career teacher who
dedicates her whole life to improving outcomes for students and
constantly educates herself to do that job better, NOW THATS
BADASS. I think you have the definition wrong.
Proud daughter


Teach for America … little more than camp counselors without the
pine trees on their shirts.

Imagine for a moment the instant promotion of butchers to
surgeons … or deck builders to bridge engineers. Imagine Cub
Scout troop leaders as military generals … or menu makers as the
next classic authors.

There’s something so odd about teaching … and it’s seldom
ending grading that snatches away your Sundays, faculty and
department meetings, parent confabs, planning, gathering things
you need and resources you want. Colleague exchanges and
innovative thinking. Blend in some school politics and the usual
work-place agita … and maybe some deep intrigue at times. Oh,
and don’t forget your family … those folks you bump into when
you’re half dressed. They want a piece of you, too.

I’m certain that five week preparation period offered by the
Teach for America leadership is gonna arm those greenhorn
teachers to the max? If that’s true, I’m only four or five hundred
practice swings from the major leagues. When do I get my
contract and uniform?

I’m not angry that people assume they can do my job. I’m
amused. You know, I’ve been thinking … wondering what I might
do when I’m done in the classroom. I think I might dabble in some
surgery … or maybe aeronautics. Looks easy from where I sit.
Pluto … here I come!
Denis Ian


Great propaganda. Read this, also http://www.alternet.org
/education/teach-america-bait-and-switch-youll-be-making- difference-youre-making-excuses
Bobbi


Excuse me. Public education teachers are badass! No one with a
5 week training period should even think about calling
themselves a badass. Unless it was a typo and you meant, Teach
for America is “bad,” for education. And anyone who uses TFA is
an ass! That I would agree too.
Paula Garfield


“It’s no accident that Teach For America has fueled the careers of
so many extraordinary women—it’s by design.”

WHAT?!?!? Use your critical thinking skills you honed in college
and think about that. The design is that you go into a
marginalized school where parents can’t or don’t know to
complain about the random (albeit book smart in another subject
besides education) unprepared person teaching their kids. And
YOU are then ‘fueled’ by and off the backs of disadvantaged
children! to then leave and become individually ‘extraordinary’ in
another career. And you admit it. You HIGHLIGHT it! You are
using these most deserving children, families and communities
for your own gain. It’s actually quite shameful. And the damage
left behind you wouldn’t know.

Teaching is about uplifting children and developing productive,
happy and empowered citizens in a democratic society for the
LONG HAUL not a spring board for some ‘badass’ career. So sad
for kids, families and our democracy actually and definitely NOT
BADASS.

Badass teachers know the depth of knowledge and experience
OVERTIME that is needed for BADASSNESS. They are committed
public servants NOT ever thinking about personal gain. Sorry,
good people, TFA is not anywhere in the realm of Badass.
A Teacher


How very typical. You claim you are teachers , after only 5 weeks
of training. Then as you ‘donate’ two years of time in the
classroom to pad your resume, you claim you are “a badass
woman”. NO! A Badass Teacher is one who has earned
credentials through 4 years of university undergrad, hones their
craft while teaching by extending their credits to include behavior
management, motivation, child development, collaborative
learning environments while likely juggling a home and a family
of their own. A real BADASS Teacher is not afraid to examine the
behind the scenes manipulations of a ‘reformer’ agenda. You are
all PAWNS – People Allowing Whiny Newbies to destroy Public
Schools. <o>
Jan


Being an underprepared instructor drone who is not committed
to the education profession or staying in the classroom and
perfecting your craft is NOT badass. It’s just bad.
Steven Singer


Is Katie Cunningham taking full responsibility for the race baiting
ad that is running in New York right now?
And, to say that these women are not self promoting when they
are in the news regularly is disingenuous at best.
NYGAL


My favorite quote ” It’s received a fair degree of attention for
organizational effectiveness” – fair is as good as marginal!!! You
are marginally correct – TFAers are Bad…case in point – you can’t
even come up with your own slogan – you have to steal it from
others…
Angela Reynolds


As an educator, I find this article insulting to my chosen
profession of 21 years!! I chose education and began teaching
after completing my B.A. in Education and my master’s degree. I
am currently working on my doctorate in Education while I am still
in the classroom! TFA teachers, I challenge you to spend more
than one or two years in a classroom. I challenge you to join a
district as a person with a degree who wants to teach, and I want
you to apply for alternative certification, a process that takes
about 2-3 years. I challenge you, as a new teacher, to join the
local teacher union, so that you can understand the importance
of banding together. I want you to explain to me how you
differentiate in a class of 27 students–where you have 12 of them
with IEPS, 2 ESOL students, and 6 students with 504s. I want to
challenge you to one year in my classroom at my high school or
ANY Title One school in our country. I want you to be there for
the football games, dances, lockdown drills, medical
emergencies, and Homecoming Spirit Weeks. I pity you, because
you will NEVER have the satisfaction of seeing the younger
siblings of families come through your classes, you will never
have the joy of celebrating school milestones, and you will never
have the respect of the community because “she left after a year
or two”. And you will never….be Badass. That takes courage and
commitment.
Cheryl Vinson


Helping to destroy the public school system does not make TFA
employees badass; it just makes them pawns for corporations
that want to turn education into a for-profit operation, to the
detriment of the students and their communities. Being used is
the polar opposite of badass—they should be embarrassed, not
proud.
Peggy ^O^


Why don’t you go establish a settlement house in a slum
somewhere instead of writing PR like this?
Splendidanomaly


As a Bad Ass Teacher(BAT), I am highly insulted as a woman that
you are naming these TFA’s Bad Ass Women. They are not the
only women juggling a Career (not a job), families and everything
else it entails. I have been doing so for the last 25 years while
battling the decimation of public education including the attack of
TFA on the teaching profession!
Cynthia Pelosi, M.S.


These are NOT teachers. Teachers are trained for more than 5
weeks. I find it insulting that TFA keeps putting these untrained
people in the classroom and calling them teachers. Teachers
have the backround and training to understand how to develop
the entire child…..not just follow a script. Why don’t they do this in
other professions? Why do lawyers, doctors, accountants,
plumbers, or anyone need training or college.? These people
think with 5 weeks training they can do this important job as well
as the trained professionals!!!! Sad ….. very sad.
Daisy


Anyone who falls for this propaganda has their head in the sand.
TFA has been called out for what it is: An opportuni$tic grab to
displace experienced, qualified teachers with 2 year ambitiou$
young career climbers who have no intention of staying in the
classroom. Well, I hope you realize that you just abandoned
Johnny, again, and helped destabilize a community’s school
along the way. Nice resume padding, $cab.
Erin Rafferty


Most TFA-temps can’t handle 1 year in a tough classroom. TFA’ers
aren’t badass they’re dropouts.
Joan Grim


Teach For America (TFA) is a Dumb Ass Scam (DAS).
Chris


I don’t think Badass means what you think it means….unless you
think it means hopeless posers who have NO idea how to teach
with a mere 5 weeks of training. Badass teachers have years of
preparations. Badass teachers advocate for and promote their
students, not themselves. You people are disgusting.
BASS


Badass Teachers Teach for Life
RBA


Imposters.
Scabs.
Pretenders.
You people have absolutely no right to stand in front of a
classroom of children.
John Christopher Nolan


Teaching and corporate America are not compatible. How dare
TFA try to Kopp(sic) the name. Bad Ass women? More like
Gordon Gekko, greedy poseurs. Hypocrites of the lowest
echelon.
Char Ashton


If by “transforming the landscape,” you mean the strip mining of
the education reform movement, then yes, the landscape is
“transformed.” No, it is not pretty. If you think that makes you
badass, than you are very confused as to what a real badass
teacher is.
FLBadassTeacher


No amount of propaganda can make me believe that TFA Corp
members are teachers.
Another Real Teacher!


Badass Teachers are in the profession for the long run, not for
resume building. We are there for the kids long after you TFA
employees move on and your charter schools shut down. Stop
pretending to compare yourselves to real classroom
professionals.
David Burks


Just wondering if you would also promote dentists, doctors,
nurses or lawyers who trained for 5 weeks instead of the 5+
years a true professional would undergo? Will you put you teeth,
surgery, hospital care, or legal case in the hands of a summer
trainee? Stop belittling the true expertise of a properly trained
educator. Teaching is NOT glorified babysitting. I believe my
library offers a babysitting certification in about the same time as
your ‘TFA’ training. Shameful!
ProudProfessionalEducator


Stealing, by imitating, the name of another group, namely the
BadAss Teachers (BATS), is unethical.
Sensei


Nice try Wendy. There is nothing badass about TFA. Now BadAss
Teachers know how to truly reform education in this country. Your
scabs are trying to help those who would destroy public
education and leave our most vulnerable children behind.
Laura Fleming


Basically Awaiting White (collar job)
Boldly Accomplishing What?
5yearstoyour5weeks


It’s telling that the accomplishments highlighted in the article deal
with actions outside the classroom. Figures.
Real Teacher


Badass Teachers are college trained professionals. I put in 20 ye,
with an education masters, plus National Board. TFA are naive
kids that damage the community with their cheap, inexperienced
labor then leave to say they worked with the poor. TFA is Teach
For A while.
Lucia, Real Badass Teacher


YOU CALL YOURSELVES TEACHERS ALSO,YOU CAN BELIEVE
WE ALL KNOW YOU ARE NOT BADASS TEACHERS BECAUSE
BADASS TEACHERS KNOW THE REAL TRUTH!
Wanda Ryals


TFA employees (I can’t call them teachers when the organization
calls them corps members and the organization doesn’t think
they are, either) don’t deserve the label “badass.” They may work
hard and raise families, but they were never as dedicated to their
students as the many thousands of real teachers who, knowing
the long hours and low pay, still went through the full education
program to be fully qualified as teachers and who have
dedicated decades to teaching. Temps for Awhile get this
attitude of superiority and idea that they can move into an area,
impose rigid discipline and scripted instruction, and leave after
two years to start their “real” careers. Even your founder, Wendy
Kopp, admits the deception. In 2011 she said, “We’re a leadership
development organization, not a teaching organization. I think if
you don’t understand that, of course it’s easy to tear the whole
thing apart.” Yet, she named it “Teach for America.” Why not,
“Leadership Development for America”? I call that “deceptive,”
not “Badass!”
Lisa ^O^


TFA is not and will never be a badass organization. The women
of TFA are not badass. They are temporary school personnel
committed only for two years of “teaching” despite the lack of
teacher training and skill obtained by credentialed teachers. TFA
takes money from public school districts as a headhunter would
for providing temporary, untrained personnel who will be gone as
soon as they begin to develop skills. That is not badass, but
greedy, shortsighted, and asinine.
Karen Rosa


Bad Ass Teachers aren’t “fueling” a career by teaching for two
years, we teach for a lifetime! TFA recruits are being terribly
deceived by articles like this. I hope they realize they have been
duped…students deserve career teachers. ^0^
Donna Mace ^O^


Wondering since TFA is so much more enlightened than us
properly trained EDUCATORS, why could you not come up with a
better moniker for your women than bad ass? Does seem odd
that you wanted to be called by the same name as us, so called
no good teachers who actually got a degree in education and
have put our hearts and souls into every precious child we teach
YEAR AFTER YEAR……meaning 10, 15, 20, 30 years….not an
“activity” to add to our resume for that “big job” in a couple of
years.
Badass Certified, Highly Qualified,
Highly Effective Trained Teacher


Perhaps the likes of Teach for America will go down in history as
one of the vulture capitalists’ most damaging privatization
enterprises to US public schools. The treatment of children as
commodities is weak and inhumane, not Badass. Feigning highly
qualified status is weak, not Badass. Taking jobs away from truly
highly qualified professionals is weak, not Badass. Using
propaganda to hide the truth of the impacts of poverty is weak,
not Badass. Going along with TFA’s cultish indoctrination without
using critical thinking (i.e. How can I possibly be highly qualified
to teach our neediest children after only 5 weeks of training
when it takes more training than 5 weeks to be licensed to be a
nail technician in a salon?) is weak, not Badass. Becoming an
insider to promote corporate propaganda in other leadership
roles when you’ve seen the ineffectiveness for personal gain and
profit is weak, not Badass. Protecting the profits of the 1% while
feigning good works for needy children is weak, not Badass.
Teach for America is a sham, not Badass. The harm done by TFA
and all who were complicit in this parasitic organization will go
down in history as personal weakness and unprofessional
conduct, as greedy and shameful behavior, not Badassery.
Susan DuFresne


You are not “Badass” at all. Maybe you should change to
“Wimpass.” Sounds a lot better and matches the crappy fake
teacher crap you promote.
Glenn


Sorry, the Badass moniker is taken by real Badass Teachers.
Don’t co-op the name, style and message of legitimate, highly
trained teachers – it’s just a sleazy move.
Joanne OBrien


Badass you are not.
Bad, edutourists, teach for a while, those who use students as
resume bullets, eduprenuers, fake, policy writers, wanna be a
politician, teacherprenuers and teacher wanna be are the correct
adjectives for you.
StandingProud


TFA are basically scabs, they teach for two years to pay for part
of a college education!
They are not committed to our children, they are committed to
lowering their student loan payments!!!
Food Safety Chef


Only a person from TFA (without teaching experience) would think
what they do is “badass”. You’re a joke and thankfully, despite all
of your self promotional efforts, the public is now aware of what a
sham you really are.
Proud Public School Parent Against TFA


Badass? Not a chance. A real badass ^0^ teacher knows that it
takes more than five weeks to develop her craft and years to
become a fully formed professional. Also, real badasses don’t
feel the need to promote themselves; they advocate for their
students. Real badasses study for years to be the best educator
they can be. Real badasses are in it for the long haul, not for a
few years. Please stop trying to be something you’re not…you are
not badasses
20 Year Badass ^O^


Obviously, the author of this article has a bias against real
teachers. Who would want their child to be taught by a poorly
trained college student? This is not OK. In no other profession
would you want a newbie working with you or your kids.
The idea that anyone can teach with just a little bit of training is
what’s wrong with education in this country. Do we want really
want a bunch of untrained, low-paid drones teaching our kids
through computers? Free thought, creativity, and a real zest for
learning would be casualties of this plan.
Shame on you for your fluff-piece!
Irving Milbury


You STOLE the name of our major teaching group. Some things
beggar belief–that some people believe throwing a kid with 5
weeks training into a high risk environment is a recipe for
success, for instance, or that the same people think it is okay to
steal a concept name that doesn’t belong to them and never will.
Shaking my head, TFA. Shaking my head.
Mr. Jay


Treating poor students and students of color as stepping stones
to your “better” career is not badass…it is selfish and morally
reprehensible.
Lynn


Wow – really? You can’t even come up with something original for
female TFA workers? And yes, workers because they are not
trained, highly qualified professionals, like teachers are. They are
pretenders and led to believe by an organization that they are
being well-trained in 5 weeks to withstand the demands of
modern teaching. Which is just like you trying to use “badass”
that already belongs to the Badass Teachers Association –
pretender.
C Andrews


You remind me of a group that co-opted the Children’s’ Defense
League’s motto, “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” ! Real teachers go
through 2 to 5 years of training as teachers, real educators jump
through hoops TFA doesn’t even begin to address! To quote the
Childrens’ Defense League, “my boat is so small and the ocean is
so big”. Please don’t steal from real Bad Ass Teachers and we
won’t pretend to be nurses or paralegals or whatever other
career choices that take 2-5 years past the B.A.
Cynthia Mann


Not Cool… you have NOT EARNED the right to be “Badass” until
you earn your TEACHING DEGREE.
KAT


I am waiting for a Dentists for America. I can drill and fill cavities
in 5 weeks and tell other dentists how to do things more
effectively.
Robby G


Why do you need to “borrow” the essence of the name of an
actual Badass organization like Badass Teachers? A group of
highly trained REAL educators who despise the very thought of a
crash course for people to become teachers. Could it be that you
hope to take advantage of people who may not be aware of
TFA’s tactics? Could it be that you’re scared of the power and
influence that real BATs hold? I think so.
Real Badass Teacher


You are neither “Bad Ass” nor highly qualified. And worse, you
take the place of a teacher who is not only Bad Ass and highly
qualified, BUT who also plans to make it a life’s work. Shame!
Artmisse


http://www.alternet.org/education/teach-america-bait-and-switch- youll-be-making-difference-youre-making-excuses
John teacher


YOU ARE NOT BADASS. HORSE’S ASS, FOOL ASS AND GREEDY
ASS, THAT’S WHAT TFA IS. YOU CAN’T CALL YOURSELF
BADASS WITH ANY DEGREE OF CREDIBILITY IF YOUR GOAL IS
TO DESTROY THE PROFESSION OF TEACHING AND TURN IT
INTO A PART TIME GIG WHILE YOU’RE WAITING TO GET A REAL
JOB.
Michael Dominguez


TFA is dumbass, not badass. Anyone willing to believe that
inexperienced and poorly trained people who are in and out of
schools are somehow changing education in America for the
better is seriously confused. TFA is a private entity being used to
help privatize our country’s public education system. While TFA
recruits may put their hearts into their jobs, they just can’t
compete with a traditionally trained teacher. Edreformers tout
TFA but are the very reason there is a teacher shortage. If you
want to teach, don’t be a dumbass, go to school and get a
teaching degree.
Phil Sorensen


Holy neocolonialism, Batman! Could you be any more transparent
in your attempt to appropriate the badassery of the Badass
Teachers Association? This is pretty much what we expect from
an organization devoted to dismantling what’s left of public
education in support of a neoliberal corporate agenda.
Will Valenti


You are not bad ass. 5 weeks does not prepare you at all to teach
in education. I have taught for almost ten years and I have met
only two TFA worth anything. Most are simple a body in a class,
not knowledgable and certainly not a teacher. Your program is
NOT a solution, it is part of the problem. Shame on you for
pretending to be teachers!
Kelly


You are not bad ass. Far from it. You are part of the problem, not
the solution. 5 weeks of training is nothing. BATs work hard to
make changes in the system that benefit our students. We are
there everyday. Year after year. Becoming part of the community.
Your people don’t last in education. Your program is a joke.
Teresa Brown


SHAME ON YOU!! Claiming to be something you are when you
aren’t! You’re trying to take jobs from PROFESSIONALLY trained &
licensed teachers.
Mary


This is not even teaching, let alone badass teaching! Stop lying.
You have summer camp training at best. You are changing the
landscape of public education by harming the very children who
need the most stability. The real ‘badass’ teachers devote their
lives to their students, parents and communities. You use them to
further your NON educational career. How dare you call
yourselves teachers? You are destroyers of public education.
Shame on you.
Lesa Wilbert


Professional education, experience, and hard-won expertise are
badass. Long -term commitment and professional development
are badass. Pretending to expertise while blocking true
educators from jobs is not badass. Thinking that five weeks
creates a teacher is sheer ignorant folly.
Prof.teacher


Seriously you have 5 weeks of training to be a teacher. You are
not badass. ^o^
^O^


Forgetting the fact that you lifted the notion of being a badass
teacher directly from an established group of actual badass
teachers (and you know you did), this whole post smacks of fake
and flimsy rhetoric and degrades the common sense of intelligent
women.

My friend’s daughter fell for your “badass” pitch. She lasted a day
in New Orleans. A day. She realized immediately that she had
absolutely no support and was not prepared for the job that you
need a 4-5 year degree to do.
TFA= Teach For Awhile.
Al


This article is such ridiculous drivel! Who in their right mind
WANTS to entrust the education of their children to a person who
was trained for only 5 weeks?! While standing by and
watching/listening to HIGHLY QUALIFIED public school teachers
who are VERIFIABLY BADASS be villainized! This TFA program
has been used to de-professionalize the teaching profession, to
attack public school educators, and to fuel the drive for
ed-reformers to privatize and charter-ize public schools (oh
surprise! The same program’s advisory board the author of this
piece serves is driven toward ed-reform! I wonder if she also
knows & loves Michelle Rhee). Then, after 2 years or so, the
“teachers” from TFA leave teaching to pursue a different career
entirely! Though the examples listed above are family-related,
there are but six of them. All this TFA garble really tells me is that
there is a dangerous lack of knowledge of what it takes to truly
be a badass. Shameful.
A Highly Qualified Public School Teacher


Tfa is far from Badass! 5 weeks of training is a joke. Nothing can
replace the college training, internships in schools during college,
and student teaching that real teachers go through. No to
mention the continuing education in graduate school and the
years of experience that go into becoming a great teacher.
Teachem


Thinking you can become a teacher in 5 weeks is far from
badass. Going through a real education program and devoting
your life to teaching children – that is badass!
Marla Kilfoyle


If TFA was so great, why are white affluent districts standing in
line to hire these “teachers”? I guess if you are poor or a person
of color you don’t need a professional teacher! Instead, any hack
with 5 weeks of training looking to beef up their resume will do!
^o^
Eve Shippens


TFA=another attack on the public schools. Destroying truly
dedicated teachers who are getting forced out of the profession
(a profession is field of work you prepare for seriously and work
in for a prolonged period of time). All as a cheap alternative.
Charmbla


This is not badass, how dare you try to co-opt the badass theme!
Come at me ten, fifteen years from now when you’ve earned
comparable qualifications (not the ones handed to you), and
stayed in the classroom and not used is as a jump to the
boardroom.
TFA is pathetic. Gl
eelo


Putting TFA clones into staff office in the House of
Representatives is the moral equivalent of stuffing a ballot box;
Putting people with 5 weeks training into inner city classrooms is
gentrification and is the moral equivalent of breaking and
entering; calling yourself badass is a joke. No one is laughing.
sue


You are not badass. You are destroying public education with
dirty money.
^O^


TFA=Teach for awhile 5 weeks of summer training do not make
for a highly trained teacher, but a babysitter. School systems pay
TFA per placement – how much $? The money would be better
spent on hiring qualified, trained teachers who choose teaching
as a career, not a resume building experience. It takes years to
become a master teacher. How will the two-year churn of teacher
turnover with TFA teachers benefit the schools they work in?
NOVAOptOut


Hope that TFAers who read this post are aware of how dishonest
and derivative this BAW idea is. If I hadn’t been so before and I
were a TFAer I would finally be humiliated by being a member of
TFA. Is there anyone reading our comments who is puzzled?
Well, if you are one such person figure it out.
ann


Badass? For how long? 2 years? Then on to another career
where you make twice as much and talk about how you tried to
help poor minorities at some cocktail party? Please. Teaching is
not for weak or for people who give up on it.
JSmom

You are not in any way, shape, or form badass. 5 weeks of
training does not equal a REAL teacher.
^o^ Maggie Coffinet, one badass teacher and proud member of
the Badass Teachers Association


“These women are so badass that they don’t have time for
self-promotion;…..” followed by a page of promotion? I am
thinking that this blatant co-opted, copy-cat messaging is a sign
of desperate times.
Cindy Hamilton


Badass??? Really??? 5 week training course and you don’t make
a career out of education you use it as a stepping stone for
another job that pays better. How “badass” is that? There is no
“love” of the job, “love” for the children, no true calling…REAL
BAD ASS TEACHERS have degrees 4 and 5 years long with
Master Degrees to boot…we do what we do for decades in the
classrooms…talk to me when you’ve been in the classroom as
long as I have! I have been in college learning HOW to teach
longer than most of your members have been teaching in
classrooms! THAT’S BADASS!
One seriously Badass Teacher


Pathetic Imitation is the pathetically sincerest form of pathetic
flattery. or something . . . heh heh. I mean, this just beats all!
Pathetic. Se also https://www.facebook.com/groups
/BadAssTeachers/
Bert Downs


These women aren’t badass. They are exploiting the poor,
compromising public education and responsible for putting the
most untrained, temporary teachers into our most underserved
schools. Not badass – just self-serving.
Pamela Casey Nagler


Are you trying to co opt the language of the Badass Teachers
movement? Five week trained scabs are not bad ass nor
teachers. Nice try but we aren’t fooled.
Ro Jensen


NOTE: This article also was published on the Badass Teachers Association blog.