Thompson: What's TFA's Role In Mass Dismissals of Teachers?
Blogger Bob Braun’s Newark: 700 Teachers May Be Laid Off, Many Replaced by TFA fed the firestorm over Superintendent Cami Anderson’s and Gov. Chris Christie’s plans for the Newark schools. Braun cited union sources who said that TFA alumni Anderson will try to fire about 700 teachers and “replace about half with new hires, including the TFA members.”
TFA’s Fatimah Burnam Watkins replied that her organization sought to place “special education, science and math [that] are hard to fill.” She condemned Braun’s report as “full of toxic inaccuracies.”
So, how can we sort out the truth? Do we just need to wait and see whether Newark follows the pattern of mass closings of schools as in Philadelphia, New Orleans, and other districts? Do we have no way of determining in advance whether TFA is no more than a supplier of teachers who are scarce, or whether it is a prime prerequisite for the mass dismissal of teachers?
Edushuyster’s Internal Documents Reveal Charter Expansion, TFA Go Hand in Hand can help answer that question. A former union communications staffer, Jennifer Berkshire looked into the Detroit corporate reform effort and their investigation of what it takes to attract charter management organizations (CMOs) to take over schools (now staffed by union members.) She linked to Broad Foundation emails explaining what is required for recruiting CMOs. In three emails, the presence of TFA was cited as an important factor in taking over schools.
I doubt many people are shocked, shocked that market-driven reformers see TFA as a resource for their market-driven campaigns. At minimum, Watkins and her organization owe Braun an apology. Edushuyster’s reporting adds to the evidence that TFA owes an apology to veteran teachers whose hard-earned salaries and benefits have made them targets.-JT(@drjohnthompson) Image via.