Collective Statement Opposing TFA Partnership

We are writing to collectively voice our concern and opposition to the proposed partnership between the University of Minnesota and Teach for America (TFA). We are surprised that the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) would consider partnering with TFA, given the lack of support on the part of Curriculum and Instruction faculty and many others in CEHD, its decreasing support from the State Board of Education (who denied providing the organization its 45 temporary teaching licenses), and the numerous teacher education scholars who denounce TFA. With the lack of evidence that TFA actually improves the lives or learning environments of students most vulnerable to exploitation (e.g., urban children/youth of color/poverty), we can only guess that this partnership is primarily one of business.

We believe that this partnership offers unearned legitimacy to a significantly flawed and powerful force in education, one which sends underprepared teachers into communities of students already often marginalized by the education system. Is CEHD prepared to endorse the notion that a five-week training prepares new teachers to better educate youth in general, but especially marginalized youth? Equally, is CEHD prepared to say that teachers should only make a two-year commitment to the classroom? As graduate students who dedicate so much of our time and energy to bettering the teaching and learning situations with and for all students, teachers, and communities, we view TFA as antithetical and harmful to our work.

The partnership will contribute to the increasing precarity and contingency of teachers, graduate students, and faculty.

A major argument for the partnership is that TFA will bring in money that will provide much-needed graduate assistantships. While we are keenly aware of our precarious and minimal funding and institutional support (or lack thereof) as graduate students and educational researchers in general, this is not an appropriate nor desirable way to meet this need. Teach for America contributes to creating more exploitative and precarious working conditions for teachers, often displacing career educators and decreasing job opportunities for our Initial Licensure Program teacher candidates and all preservice teachers who seriously study pedagogy and curriculum before heading into the classroom. Further, TFA creates harmful environments for its own recruits, placing them in complicated classroom situations with no real knowledge of pedagogy, let alone the community or the issues of poverty and racism their students often face. In fact, a national ‘resistance to TFA’ summit organized by TFA alums will be taking place later this summer. TFA supports a political agenda that undercuts teacher unions, and that reduces teacher preparation to a quick and dirty “training” program. TFA contributes to shrinking tenure-track professorships in education in exchange for TFA coordinators and adjunct instructor positions. We view the increasing prevalence of TFA-influence in colleges of education as, in the long term, a reckless contribution to the de-skilling and de-professionalizing of us and our fellow public school teachers and faculty. Please don’t use us as an excuse to go forward with the partnership; we don’t want graduate assistantships that would force us into complicity with practices that help to dismantle the very research and commitments we are working toward as graduate students and as professionals dedicated to better educating all youth.

TFA contributes to school inequity more than resisting it.

TFA justifies its relevance by stating that it contributes to closing the achievement gap, legitimized by “research” machines like the Edvance Research or National Council on Teacher Quality, who produce sketchy research that TFA raises test scores. The Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice wrote, in reference to the most recent study, “While the findings were large enough to be relevant to policymakers, numerous issues with the sample construction, matching procedures, and statistical analyses lead us to conclude the outcomes cannot be attributed to TFA teachers.” Studies have shown that high teacher turnover rate is actually harmful to students and to student achievement. TFA recently asked the state of Minnesota for $1.4 million over the next two years, even though they are a wealthy and powerful organization with more than $350 million in assets. In the words of one local Minneapolis high school teacher, “It is a corporate funded political organization that has over 1800 (non-classroom) employees and annual operating surpluses in the millions–$114 million in a recent federal filing.” TFA is able to leverage its wealth and influence for hype that it “works.” Even if it were true, we know from our study and experience working with students, teachers, and families that test scores in isolation are not a legitimate measurement of a nurturing and healthy learning environment. We know that experience and preparedness, strong and meaningful relationships, supportive and well-resourced work and learning conditions, and a serious commitment to students’ lives contributes more to educational equity than inexperienced and underprepared (however well-meaning) TFA recruits who have a high turnover rate after their two years of “service” are completed.

TFA is NOT accessible to teachers of color and teachers from working class backgrounds.

Another argument in support of the partnership is that TFA will provide access to teaching to people of color and working class people. TFA is a prestigious institution, and recruits candidates from what it perceives are also “elite” institutions in order to build its brand. Mark Naison, professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University, said that he no longer allows TFA to recruit from his classroom after finding out that TFA overwhelmingly accepts a majority of Yale, Harvard, and other ivy-league graduates, and a tiny fraction of his Fordham students, and even fewer working class students who cannot afford to attend these schools. Further, he says that TFA markets its program as a way into business, medical, or other elite professions. The majority of TFA recruits are not people of color or people from working class backgrounds who are dedicated to their communities, and they likely won’t be, given TFA’s openly stated goals for building itself as a “quality” brand dedicated to creating a pathway to wealth and power for “quality” people (i.e., people from the elite institutions where it spends the majority of its time recruiting). (See TFA’s own website for evidence of this.) We do not think this is a real pathway for increasing access to teaching positions in school communities for the people who are rooted in and know those communities best.

TFA works against our visions of education.

Coming from different areas and perspectives within the field of education, we all have various ideas about what education should look like. However, we can agree that TFA is not it. We desire an educational system in which teachers have a long-term stake in their students’ and communities’ futures, in which teachers have the time and support to profoundly develop and refine their teaching and facilitation skills, and in which teachers possess the experience, support, and knowledge to cultivate meaningful pedagogical philosophies. We also recognize that our role is to support these emergent teachers as they transition into the classroom. We recognize that partnering with TFA has the potential to bring more financial resources that could be used to fund our education in the short term. In the long term, we do not think it is worth sacrificing the integrity of our programs, our future aspirations as teacher educators, and our communities and classrooms in aligning with what we believe is an opportunistic, trendy, and short-sighted education “reform” that does not have the education of youth as its top priority.

Sincerely,

Erin Dyke (Curriculum & Instruction)

Angela Coffee (Curriculum & Instruction)

Maggie Struck (Curriculum & Instruction)

Shannon McManimon (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jehanne Beaton (Curriculum & Instruction)

Brian Lozenski (Curriculum & Instruction)

Colleen Clements (Curriculum & Instruction)

Tracey Pyscher (Curriculum & Instruction)

Shannon Dahmes (Curriculum & Instruction)

Michelle Benegas (Curriculum & Instruction)

Rachel Tholen Hatten (Curriculum & Instruction)

Madeleine Israelson (Curriculum & Instruction)

Sam Tanner (Curriculum & Instruction)

Brad Biggs (Curriculum & Instruction)

Ellen Debe (CEHD Grad)

Siri Scott (Curriculum & Instruction)

Matthew Schuelka (Organizational Leadership, Policy & Development)

Sarah Nystuen (Curriculum & Instruction)

Lisa Ortmann (Curriculum & Instruction)

Tyra Nelson (CEHD Alum)

Johanna Ennser-Kananen (Curriculum & Instruction)

May Vang (CEHD)

Sara Hurley (Curriculum & Instruction)

Katie Levin (Center for Writing)

Erin Stutelberg (Curriculum & Instruction)

Kathryn Engebretson (CEHD Alum)

Emily Lind (English-University of Michigan)

Megan Lowe (CEHD)

Rachel Smith (Educational Psychology)

Lauren Haberly (CEHD Alum)

Amanda Rydberg (CEHD Alum)

Kevin Hansen (CEHD Grad)

Eli Meyerhoff (Political Science)

Katie Levin (Center for Writing)

Corbin Treacy (French & Italian)

Jen Vanek (Curriculum & Instruction)

Stephanie Rollag (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jessica Dockter Tierney (Curriculum & Instruction)

Kai Bosworth (Geography)

Matthew Williams (Dept. of Writing Studies Alum)

Madison Van Oort (Sociology)

Carolyn Fraker (Sociology)

Tami Rae Weiss (Curriculum & Instruction)

Brian Erlich (CEHD Grad)

Justin Grinage (Curriculum & Instruction)

Raphi Rechitsky (Sociology)

Monica Howell (Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development)

Deborah Lee-ferrand (French)

Christopher Kolb (Curriculum & Instruction)

Kari Discher (Curriculum & Instruction)

Emily Philipp (Sociology)

Bonnie Laabs (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Eva Boehm (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jessie Eastman (Political Science)

Mingwei Huang (American Studies)

Lars Mackenzie (Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies)

Robert Skoro (Nutrition)

Kari Dahle-Huff (Curriculum & Instruction)

Charlotte Karem Albrecht (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Libby Sharrow (Political Science)

Kathleen Rider (French & Italian)

Melody Hoffman (Communication Studies graduate)

Madeline Harms (Child Psychology)

Jenna Cushing-Luebner (Curriculum & Instruction)

Kathryn Stemper (Curriculum & Instruction)

Nicole Pettitt (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Christopher White (CEHD)

Jessica Winkelaar (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jasmine Harris-LaMothe (Sociology)

Jesús Estrada-Perez (American Studies)

Abram Lewis (American Studies)

Emily Walz (CEHD grad)

Beth Dillard (Curriculum & Instruction)

Derek Schwarz (Curriculum & Instruction)

Mary Hoelscher (Curriculum & Instruction)

Martina Arnal (Curriculum & Instruction)

Kristina Lindgren (CEHD – ILP: ECE)

Amy Yong (Curriculum & Instruction)

Maria Mancuso (retired employee of Curriculum & Instruction)

Keeley Vollmer (CEHD Alum)

Christopher Bauleke (CEHD Grad)

Tanya Hahn (CEHD ILP Grad)

Deqa Muhidin (CEHD Grad)

Elizabeth Robertson (CEHD Grad)

Meghan McFadden (CEHD Grad)

Karisa Butler-Wall (American Studies)

Dawn Armfield (Dept. of Writing Studies Alum)

Leana Stone (CEHD Grad)

Alice Gerard (Hamline MAT Grad)

Trent Kays (Writing Studies)

Jacqueline Mosconi (UMN-EdD Global Indigenous Teaching & Learning)

Stephanie DeFrance (Hamline MA ESL)

Callie Moylan (CEHD Grad)

Ann Mason (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Molly Blake (CEHD Grad)

Melody Lee (CEHD ILP Science Education)

Kathrine Mohrman (American Studies)

Peter McKown (CEHD Alum)

Pia PayneShannon (CEHD Alum)

Brionna Harder (CEHD Alum)

Reid Anderson (CEHD)

Alana Hawley (Art Education)

Teran Pederson (CEHD Alum)

Leah Laurent (CEHD Alumn/MPS Teacher)

Nathan Walters (CEHD Grad)

Manuel Peña (Ed P.A.)

Judy Bjorke (Social Work UW-Madison)

Caroline Hooper (CEHD Alum)

Patricia Wycoff (MPS Parent)

Patricia Lee (Retired MPS Teacher)

Toniann Buckley (MPS Teacher)

Suzanne Mears (CEHD Alum)

Kristin Woebke (CEHD Alum)

Teresa Kiedrowski (CEHD Alum)

Jolinda Simes (UST EdD/CEHD Rdng Cert./ MPS teacher)

Jaclyn Van Geest (CEHD English Education)

Andrew McNally (American Studies)

Julia Reiersgord (CEHD Art Education)

Charlene Ellingson (Curriculum & Instruction)

Janet Hagen (CEHD Alum MA ESL)

Jeffrey Nelson (Visual Arts Teacher)

Jill Jacobson (Mpls Teacher and CLA Alum)

Yi-Ju Lai (Curriculum & Instruction)

Rob Haworth (Professional and Secondary Education, Westchester University, Westchester, PA)

Hallie Kamesh (Curriculum & Instruction)

David Groos (Curriculum & Instruction)

Robert Panning-Miller (MPS Teacher)

Rebecca Foster (Educational Psychology)

Connie Sekaros (English Dept., Community College of Philadelphia)

Hk Christie (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jenna Mitchler (Curriculum & Instruction)

Antonia Dempsey (CEHD ILP Grad)

Anne Crampton (Curriculum & Instruction)

Jessamay Thompson (Curriculum & Instruction)

Don Bouchard (Curriculum & Instruction)

Michael Enderle (CEHD – English)

Mark Hamilton (MPS Parent)

Barbara Pederson (MPS, CEHD Alum)

Caroline Long (CEHD Grad and Mpls Teacher)

David Boucher (MPS Teacher)

Michelle Hobbs (CEHD Alum)

William Morrison (History and Social Studies Teacher)

Elisabeth Geschiere (MPS Associate Educator)

Gytis Liulevicius (MPS Teacher, CEHD Alum)

Corinth Matera (CEHD Alum)

Allison Sirowich (CEHD Alum)

Daniel Muro LaMere (SPPS Teacher, MN Writing Project Fellow)

Kaytie Kamphoff (MN District #286 Teacher)

Molly Manthey (Special Education)

Carla Olson (English Teacher)

Danielle de Gregory (MPS Teacher & Parent, CLA Alum)

Hugh Jardon (Extra Special Education)

Joni Yam (CLA Alum)

Nate Holdren (History)

David Morawski (Mathematics)

Ben Stork (Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature)

Nonie Kouneski (Mpls Teacher)

Andrew Opitz (Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature)

Krista Moyer (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Sara Nelson (Geography, Environment & Society)

Valerie Rittler (Mpls Public Schools Teacher)

Kevin Van Meter (Geography, Environment & Society)

Brian Shea (Statistics)

Daniel Cahoon (CEHD Alum)

Jessica Lehman (Geography, Environment & Society)

Linda Salas (HS Math Teacher)

Jalene Picard (CEHD – English)

Max Ginsburg (CEHD Alum)

Katie Gorilla (CEHD Grad)

Jacob Barney (Geography, Environment & Society)

Paul Read (CLA – English Alum)

Janice McInerney (Humphrey Alum)

Benjamin E. Braverman (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Roger Dumas (Cognitive Science)

Marita Bujold (Public Education Advocate)

Whitney Flohr (ECE Alum)

Roberta Beach (N/A)

Uyen Tran (CEHD Alum)

Karen Read (CEHD Educational Psychology Alum)

Stephanie Pastrana (MPS Parent)

Carol Foth (CEHD Alum – MA in Adult Education)

Bozena Morawski (Epidemiology and Community Health)

G Brion (CEPS Saint Louis University)

Christine Kunitz (Epidemiology and Community Health)

Alanna Kucera (CEHD Grad)

Bill Gleason (Laboratory Medicine & Pathology)

Chad Pearson (History)

Joe Alfano (CEHD Grad)

Angelica Gibbs (Spanish Teacher)

Eugenia Mora (PUNTE Project English Teacher)

Amy Selvius (Global Studies)

Jason Hicks (Humphrey – Public Policy Grad)

Chelda Smith (Curriculum & Instruction)

Lauren Johnson (CEHD Alum)

Nikki Hansen (CEHD Alum – English Teacher)

Audrey Lensmire (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Edward Hahn (Writing Studies)

Alicia Hlebain (Psychology Alum)

Bob George (National Director, Save Our Schools)

Betsy Marshall (Public Education Advocate)

Ali Vujovich (CEHD Alum/Mpls Teacher)

Naomi Crocker (Curriculum & Instruction Alum)

Abdihakin Abdi (Humphrey – Public Policy Grad)

Meghan Krausch (Sociology)

Ashley McDonald (Sociology)

Raechel Tiffe (Communication Studies Alum)

Julie Gorlewski (SUNY New Paltz)

Heidi Jones (CEHD Alum)

Fang Wang (Curriculum & Instruction)

Barbara Madeloni (UMass Amherst)

Shannon Edberg (MPS Teacher)

Jennifer Secor Nelson (Anoka-Hennepin School District Teacher)

Amy McIntyre (MPS Parent & Teacher)

Richard Van Heertum (UCLA)

Kely Wakely (CEHD Alum)

Jack Delehanty (Sociology)

David Brown (UMass Amherst)

Jesse Zatloff (Sociology)

Sarah Whetstone (Sociology)

Sarah Combellick-Bidney (Augsburg College)

Damien Carriere (Geography)

David Pellow (Sociology)

Isaac Martín (Community Organizer)

Julie Dargis (MPLS SPED)

Ira Shor (English)

Rebecca Stepnitz (Sociology)

Tanja Andic (Sociology)

Cayla Baumann (CEHD Alum)

Jim Saliba (Sociology)

Anthony J. Nocella II (Institute for Critical Animal Studies)

Marla Zubel (CSCL)

Carly McEathron (CEHD)

Talia Leonard (Boston University)

Jarib Rahman (Boston University)

Zena Ozeir (Boston University)

Emily Springer (Sociology)

Russell Weiss-Irwin (The City University of New York)

Teresa Gowan (Sociology)

Ashley Penney (CEHD Alum/MPS Teacher)

Chamonix Adams Porter (Yale University)

Michael Busch (The City University of New York)

Mary Ballsrud (Curriculum & Instruction)

Heather Anderson (CEHD Alum)

Declan Bowman (Boston University)

Kate Claassen (CEHD Alum)

Kristen Martin (Boston University)

Sheina Godovich (Psychology)

Yakov Shchukin (Sociology Alum)

Kareem Cheyaheb (IR)

Andrew Gramm (MPS Associate Educator)

Janna Nobleza (HS English Teacher)

Mike Stivers (The City University of New York)

Aaron Rosenblum (Community Organizer)

Ryan Alaniz (Sociology Alum)

Aaron Brown (Supporter of public education)

Kevin Dyke (Geography Alum)

Karen Twyman (CEHD)

Samilee Moody (Macalester College Alum)

Jake Hamburger (Columbia University)

Emily Vance (CEHD Alum)

Sadie Cox (Education)

Gretchen Wibben (Reading)

Flory Sommers (UW and UMN)

Dave Brodek (CEHD)

Fredrick Sperounis (Sociology)

Jim Thomas (CEHD Alum)

Joe Krall (Comparative Literature – UC Irvine, CLA Alum)

Marshall Washick (UMN Alum)

Yoni Golijov (Columbia University)

Stephanie Zhang (Columbia University Alum)

Kyle Sweeney (CEHD)

Kyle Green (Sociology)

Rahsaan Mahadeo (Sociology)

Charmaine Chua (Political Science)

Dick Tremayne (Comparative Bioethics – University of Aberdale)

Evan Stewart (Sociology)

Sharain Naylor (Political Science, UHM)

Alex Manning (Sociology)

Jessica Conte (East Asian Languages and Literatures – UC Irvine)

Danielle Docka-Filipek (Sociology)

Chris Baden (Medieval Studies)

Christiaan Greer (Counseling Psychology)

David Fontana (Boston University)

Linda Bruning (Teaching Artist – Theater)

Jeff Pilon (CEHD Grad)

Joyce Anttila (Education, Regis University)

Richard Sjoquist (English, Kean University)

Tony Haraldson (Law)

Shalom Ross (CEHD Grad)

Peggy Robertson (United Opt Out National)

Jeff Pilacinski (Medical School)

Jennifer Englund (Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development/Postsecondary Teaching & Learning)

Julian Vasquez Heilig (Educational Administration)

Johanna Mueller (CEHD Alum)

Lucia Pawlowski (English)

Ang Gardner-Kocher (UMN Alum & Librarian)

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