Sunday, December 21, 2008

Don't Blame Us, It Was TFA! (part 2)

Nancy Flanagan (via Doug's shared):

The initial prompt was a post by an alumna of TFA, encouraging her fellow TFA corps members to take immediate action on the possible nomination of Linda Darling-Hammond as Secretary of Education. She noted that decision-makers are paying attention to the discourse—and alumni should read and post frequently on blogs, have their public say, as active participants in the “reform movement that has no name.” Of which Teach for America seemed to be a vital, integral part, in her not-so-humble opinion.

I found it interesting that there was zero consensus among the corps members who posted long and lucid responses. Some of them thought Linda Darling-Hammond was a respected scholar and terrific advocate for the very kids they were currently teaching—and had been unfairly portrayed as TFA Enemy #1. Others were itching for a fight—believing that the only way to effect radical change was to overthrow the system, which would benefit from an infusion of corporate, not “teacher-centric,” leadership. This second group was a tiny, but distinct minority. A few canny, critical commenters thought LDH was a shoo-in for the post, and felt that protecting and defending Teach for America was short-sighted—that a clear-eyed analysis of what was good and bad about alternative routes into teaching was a far better strategy than blind loyalty to the organization that birthed their teaching careers.

This is particularly intriguing combined with Richard Whitmire's assertion that mighty TFA put the Obama administration on notice when it squelched a possible Darling-Hammond nomination.

The idea of a unified TFA "no excuses" reform juggernaut is much more rhetorically useful to an education writer than a varied, thoughtful and self-aware group. It isn't clear to me that turning TFA into a political caricature does it any favors.

No comments: