TFA likes to pretend it is a teacher recruiting program, giving a whopping five weeks of training to its members before sending them off to the hardest teaching assignments. What's become clear is that TFA is really a political organization: after two or three years of actual teaching, its alumni then go on to positions as elected or appointed officials at the district-, state-, and local-level.
Hence the rise of LEE. Undoubtedly, they look upon Cerf - who has slinked easily between the private, political, and leadership worlds of education - as a role model, someone who has much to teach the future army of reformyists:
Golly, the Broadies are involved? I'm just shocked...
Ken posts the full email exchange here; Cerf, of course, is delighted to attend. What's really interesting, however, is the proposed program for this little soiree. The goals include "learn[ing] skills that are essential to becoming effective elected officials" and "learn[ing] core skills (e.g. messaging and communication, coalition building) to help participants to navigate politics, legislate, and advocate" [emphasis mine]. 50-60% of the participants were scheduled to be "local/municipal candidates electeds," and 20% "state candidates/electds."
One panel was on "using key experiences from your [two years of] teaching experience to frame your campaign."Another instructed how to "frame their campaign message in terms of their Teach For America [in]experience." Other sessions include training in how to be "media savvy."
In other words: this was an event designed to train TFA alumni in "navigating politics". The Education Commissioner of New Jersey agreed to attend a nakedly political event designed to help get TFA alumni into political office.
Everybody fine with that?
Another highlight scheduled was a panel bringing together failed Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White and Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson. Anderson would discuss "reform through centralized policies and processes." Considering the state-appointed Anderson overrode her own elected school board to close public schools and lease the buildings to charters, I'd say she was an excellent choice for this particular topic.
Oh, and this session was outlined with no apparent sense of irony:
Networking and discussion about innovative solutions for addressing educational inequity among unique populations, such as English language learners, Native American students, students with special needs, and students living in rural areas. Assigned seating, pre-reading assignments. In a private room at a nice restaurant.Thank Eli they discussed educational inequity in a "private room at a nice restaurant."
The reformy movement is no longer about innovation and addressing inequity (if it ever was). It is about power: amassing and retaining power is job one for these people. There used to be at least the pretense of a line that separated politics and our schools; the reformyists have pretty much obliterated it now. It's a brave, new, reformy, world.
You know, the ones I wear when I'm campaigning...
ADDING: Remember when then-Deputy Commissioner of the NJDOE, Andy Smarick, was also serving on the board of directors of the very reformy 50CAN?
Do these guys just not care about appearances? Is that it?