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We are a coalition of over 55,000 public school educators, parents and advocates who support public education as the foundation of a free and democratic society. We oppose legislation that promotes or enables the privatization of our public schools. It has always been our concern that corporate interests have had too much representation and influence on Capitol Hill, overshadowing the voice of the public school educator.
In recent months, we have met with your offices to share our concerns about public education policy and to get a better understanding of the positions held by our representatives in Washington D.C. During the week of July 25, we initiated over 60 separate meetings with senators and congressional representatives. In meeting with your legislative aides, we were shocked to learn of the large number of Teach for America (TFA) alumni in your offices, presumably assisting you with shaping education policy. It is alarming that TFA has managed to infiltrate the halls of power in our government and to influence public policy behind closed doors because Teach for America advocates many policies that directly conflict with serving the public interest.
TFA operates with the specific purpose of providing temporary workers to schools that are responsible for educating our country’s children, and specifically, children who are living in impoverished areas. Their five week training period and two years of service do not insure that best practices are being used in the classroom and undermine the ideology that schools need the stability to best serve students. Additionally, the overall agenda of Teach for America includes relationships with the charter school industry and advocacy for high stakes testing. These are two reform items that have and are continuing to have a devastating effect on our public school foundation.
Teach for America uses its teaching program as a direct line into legislative assistant positions through the Capital Hill Fellows Program. We are taking a strong stance against the practice of hiring former Teach for America employees for any position that allows them to influence educational policy. Doing such ignores the voices of true educators with a background in education and experience in the classroom. At this point in time, as the agenda of private parties is showing direct attempts at using the school system for personal gain it is necessary to examine what policies TFA supports and whether these policies are truly what we want for our nation’s schoolchildren – rich, middle-class or poor.
To our Senators and Representatives we have two proposals:
1.Cut off government funding for Teach for America, allowing it to operate through donations and private support until we can determine that Teach for America truly represents the ideals of public education for all.
2. Establish a public school teacher liaison team in every state to facilitate better communication with our legislative offices and include these necessary voices in the decision making processes. The already established channels have proved to be exclusionary and the reality of our schools is not yet being represented as needed.
We urge you to contact a true grassroots movement of teachers that care about our schools and work on developing a plan where a truly democratic process in decision making can be achieved. We can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
True Cost of TFA Impact on Urban Schools
Teach for America: Review of the Evidence
TFA Supported Adding NCLB Punishments to ESEA Bill
Teach for America Seeks Help Promoting Itself on Capitol Hill
Why I did TFA and Why you Shouldn’t