This is for every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality, and refuses to accept assessments, tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for real teaching and learning.
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 andadvocacy 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 email@example.com