The League for Education Voters, LEV, that same Broad-backed, Gates’ funded organization that brought us Kevin Johnson, a big proponent of charter schools who spoke to a mostly African-American audience in an African-American church in Seattle and by the way, the only event that was not held at the MOHAI Museum, Steve Barth with KIPP, and my personal favorite, Ben Austin with the Parent Trigger,  is now sponsoring an evening with Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, Inc. (TFA), to extol the virtues of her organization.

Sue and I have written  on this blog about Teach for America, Inc. and how  recruits recently graduated from college are used to populate charter schools with cheap labor after five weeks of training to work specifically in low-poverty schools for two years before continuing on in their chosen professions which is usually not in the field of education. The privatizers call this the panacea that will cure all that ails the educational system in our country, that and charter schools.

For posts on this blog specific to TFA, Inc., please read:

Diane Ravitch on TFA, Inc.

Teach for America Testimony

More School Board Testimony Regarding TFA

Controversial TFA Back on the Agenda in Seattle

The Lines of Influence in Education Reform

Now we are beginning to wonder about the money for TFA, Inc. and where all that money is going. Our school board president along with our Broad-trained superintendent pushed through at the 11th hour a highly contested proposal to hire TFA recruits in Seattle, a town with four reputable colleges of education with graduates who have trained for several years to become teachers and now might lose an opportunity to work in our school system because a TFA, Inc. recruit might take their spot.

The kicker is that we have to pay TFA, Inc. $4,000 per year to have these recruits in our school system on top of the salary that they are to be paid. What is most interesting about this is that there seems to be a sliding scale for the cost of having these young grads in our schools. Ms. Kopp charges some districts $2,000 per year per head and other school districts $10,000 per year per recruit. On top of that, the Department of Education is giving Ms. Kopp $50M for her organization, and the Broad Foundation, on which Ms. Kopp sits as a Board Director, has recently promised Wendy Kopp another $25M, along with three other donors, for a total of $100M.

We haven’t done the numbers yet but it seems that there is a lot of money that this non-profit is receiving from all sources including donations from other foundations and the unsuspecting public through their website and yet there is not much in terms of cost except for a five-week training program and of course lots of marketing on the behalf of this organization. An organization that, because of its’ non-profit status, does not pay taxes.

The financial aspect of TFA, Inc. is a subject for another post that we should have up by the time of Ms. Kopp’s arrival in Seattle this March.

In the meantime, check out the video below from a TFA, Inc. recruit who had second thoughts about TFA, Inc. and shares his experiences.


And this is what Mr. Bilby states on his YouTube site.

My name is John Bilby and I was a TFA teacher in the New York region from September 2009 until March 2010. I left the organization because I felt that it does not adequately prepare its people to serve the poorest children in public schools. I also think that TFA is more interested in power, access, and influence in the federal game of education than it is concerned with resolving educational inequity. Its “corps members” are merely a means to this end, providing the organization with a front while it pursues the goals of its donors, namely to remodel public education in this country in order to favor a high-turnover, non-unionized workforce in charters run by hedge-fund managers for tax breaks. I foresee this further stratifying our current system into one in which children with disabilities, children who don’t speak English, and children who do not do well on standardized tests are funneled into substandard schools in a constant state of crisis due to continuous budget cutting.

I still believe, however, in the democratic power of education and the right of the people to vote out those who might infringe upon it. I am beginning a traditional route teacher certification program and I am looking forward to getting back into a city classroom soon.

Another TFA story was shared during the forum in Seattle with Dr. Ravitch. Our own Jesse Hagopian spoke of his experiences as a TFA recruit in Washington DC.

Go into the video 9 minutes to hear his testimony regarding Teach for America, Inc.


Update: 2/14/2011

Check out the live blogging that was done during  the TFA summit last weekend. Some very revealing insights written by a former TFA recruit.