Registration information here for entire conference, July 11-14. From the website:
Calling all critical Teach For America (TFA) alumni and students, teachers, and community members impacted by TFA! Join us to organize resistance to TFA’s role in market-based educational reform. During this national assembly, you’ll have an opportunity to hear an overview of the complex role TFA plays in the educational landscape, share experiences in cross-constituent small groups, record testimonials, and participate in action-oriented work groups.
The anti-TFA campaign will be launched Sunday morning. Here is clip from program (click to enlarge):
Clips from coverage of the event from The American Prospect:
. . . .Despite the endless outcry [against TFA], no one has ever staged a coordinated, national effort to overhaul, or put the brakes on, TFA—let alone anyone from within the TFA rank-and-file. On July 14, in a summit at the annual Free Minds/Free People education conference in Chicago, a group of alumni and corps members will be the first to do so.
The summit, billed as “Organizing Resistance Against Teach for America and its Role in Privatization,” is being organized by a committee of scholars, parents, activists, and current corps members. Its mission is to challenge the organization’s centrality in the corporate-backed, market-driven, testing-oriented movement in urban education.
“The goal is to help attendees identify the resources they have as activists and educators to advocate for real, just reform in their communities,” says co-coordinator Beth Sondel, a 2004 TFA alum who is now a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin.” Though the organizers don’t have pre-set goals, possible outcomes range from a push for school districts not to contract with TFA to counter-recruitment of potential corps members away from the program.
. . . .
The Chicago summit builds on the gamut of student, teacher, and community resistance to TFA-aligned reform, including recent, successful pushback against TFA itself. In May, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton vetoed $1.5 million in funding for the organization, citing TFA’s already-loaded coffers. Three weeks later, the state’s Board of Teaching voted to deny TFA a group-based licensing variance, an extra hurdle for corps members to be allowed to teach. In April, prominent alumni played a key role in getting the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing to tighten the training requirements for teachers of English language learners—which will directly impact corps members.
Within TFA, resistance is an uphill battle. The optimism that singular change agents can overcome poverty—successful teaching “requires all the same approaches that transformational leadership in any setting requires” and “there is nothing elusive about it,” as TFA founder and CEO Wendy Kopp puts it—is a powerful brand that crowds out dissent. Those who question this ideology are less likely to identify as TFA alums—and, in turn, less likely to invest in speaking out against TFA. Those who do speak out face narrower access to leadership pipelines within TFA’s political empire.
“One of the misperceptions of TFA is that accomplished alumni are successful because they’re so persistent, they’re so relentless.” says Janelle Scott, a 1991 corps member who studies reform politics as a professor at Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. “What’s talked about less in public discourse is how deep alumni networks are that are largely invisible. Many alumni don’t feel that they a have a voice.”