Teach for America’s Executive Director, Josh Anderson.
On December 2nd they wrote,
(We look) forward to final passage of the long overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that Congress considers this month. Our elected officials owe it to our students, teachers, and families to ensure our nation’s education policy is updated and strengthened.
We commend the bipartisan process that led to this point, under the leadership of Senator Alexander and Senator Murray, Congressman Kline and Congressman Scott. Our nation’s children and their families deserve an ESEA law that ensures high standards for all, and enables high-quality teaching from early learning to ensuring college readiness. We support this bill and believe it will foster further progress toward ensuring excellent schools for all children, everywhere, and we call on states and local school districts to continue the work that needs to be done to ensure that race, national origin or income does not limit a child’s opportunity to succeed.
That didn’t come from NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia or AFT President Randi Weingarten. You might think so since they have made support for ESEA reauthorization a priority since last summer. They have been gushing over ESSA passage and patting themselves on the back for spending millions on lobbying efforts for the reauthorized federal education bill.
As a NEA member I received endless emails to call Senators Durbin and Mark Kirk to advocate for ESSA with barely a word about what was in it.
I wasn’t quoting from the teacher union leaders, however.
That is from Teach for America, the organization that supplies mainly poor and urban school districts with five-week miracles as teachers. TFA was designed with busting unions in mind.
When it comes to ESSA, TFA is loving it like a ten-old loves a Happy Meal.
Under NCLB and additionally (Iowa Democratic Party Senator Tom) Harkin’s provision stealthily slipped into a debt bill and altering the definition of “highly qualified,” a five-week-trained TFAer is qualified to replace (2014-15 Alabama Teacher of the Year Ann Marie) Corgill as a teacher in a state receiving Title I funding.
I’m sure that politicians like known TFA supporter Harkin are only thinking of the kids.
According to ESSA, the term “highly qualified” is nixed, which (assuming ESSA passes in the Senate) will kill the terms of the 2013 Harkin amendment to include “teachers in training” as eligible to teach in public schools in states receiving Title I funding. According to the new definition, those TFAers will need to meet requirements set forth by the state for certification.
The twist is that it is up to states to determine teacher certification requirements– which means that TFA-friendly states could surely still cater to TFA in the setting of certification requirements. (After all, there is the possibility of states’ employing teachers whose licensing requirements have been waived– a five-week-trained, TFA open door….)
The ESSA language change favoring TFA was paid for by millions of dollars provided by TFA’s corporate funders.
Back in October, Politico reported:
With a $100 million endowment and annual revenues approaching $300 million, TFA is flush with cash and ambition. Its clout on Capitol Hill was demonstrated last week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers made time during the frenzied budget negotiations to secure the nonprofit its top legislative priority — the renewal of a controversial provision defining teachers still in training, including TFA recruits, as “highly qualified” to take charge of classrooms.
That language is now in the ESSA bill that President Obama signed last week.