I Still Can’t Agree With Teach For America Getting Paid $125,000 To Do Teacher Leader Prep Programs…

Teach For America, the University of Delaware, and Supporting School Success just began contracts with the Delaware Department of Education for their teacher-leader preparation programs.  The contract began June 1st.  It could just be me, but I see something inherently wrong with using Teach For America to shape the future leaders of education.  If I understand these programs right, the teachers will be out of the classroom a lot, so schools will have to get substitute teachers.

Teach For America is getting $125,000 for their work on this contract, along with the University of Delaware.  The FLEX program, operated by Supporting School Success, is only getting $50,000 for eleven months of work.  Reading state contracts is like reading hieroglyphics, but I can’t really understand why the Teach For America contract is a five-year program that runs out in a year.  Maybe I’m misreading something, but who pays for this after a year?  The district or charter school?  Would those payments go to Teach For America?  Cause I’m pretty sure applicants for these programs have to apply through the Delaware Department of Education unless I’m thinking of some other teacher leader program.  Are districts okay with getting invoices from Teach For America after a year?  If someone could explain all this to me, please let me know.  I’m not sure which program has this, but I did attend a Capital board meeting a few months back where the board approved a couple of schools to take part in this program.  The district explained funds would come out of grants.  Whether those are federal or state, I’m not sure.  But in the end, we all pay for it!

This contract with Teach For America was actually very controversial about ten months ago, but the Professional Standards Board and State Board of Education eventually approved the application.

In the meantime, the contracts for each of the programs are below:

US Senator Chris Coons Sure Does Love Teach For America

US Senator Chris Coons (DE) got an award today.  The Teach For America Congressional Champion award.  He sure does like TFA and charter schools!  If I recall correctly, the Delaware Charter Schools Network was lobbying pretty heavily in your office for the Every Student Succeeds Act.  Hey Chris, thanks again for your unwavering support for TFA!  Now how about going to bat for the other 98% of teachers in Delaware?  Cause I’m pretty students in Delaware still get a “high quality” education whether TFA is in schools or not.  Wendy Kopp’s vision for schools in America is Charterville and we all know it!

CoonsTFA

Teach For America’s “Lead Delaware” Approved By State Board But Who Is Teach For All?

Yesterday at the Delaware State Board of Education unanimously approved the Teach For America led “Lead Delaware” program.  At the September Delaware Professional Standards Board (PSB) meeting, the original application didn’t even get a vote by the voting board.  TFA redesigned the application which was approved by the PSB and several schools wrote letters of support for the program.  The highlights of the program can be seen below:

In listening to the State Board audio recording, Jeremy Grant-Skinner with TFA mentioned a partner called Teach For All.  This is essentially an international Teach For America, led by Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach For America.  Grant-Skinner talked about how they will bring some of their cohorts (Principal trainers) to different regions to learn best practices.

Kopp’s husband is Richard Barth, the founder of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools.  While there are no KIPP schools in Delaware, my fear is the more embedded TFA becomes in Delaware, it is only a matter of time before they invade.

I have been very vocal about my feelings on Teach For America embedding themselves in Delaware education, and this new Lead Delaware program is not the best thing for Delaware in my opinion.  First off, they will charge a $7,000 “service fee” to each program participant.  While TFA is saying there will be no costs from the local education agencies (school districts), I have to wonder where these funds will come from.  Perhaps Rodel or the Longwood Foundation?  Both have donated heavily to TFA Delaware in the past.  Here is the budget for each “cohort”:

Category Unit Cost ($)

Tuition/fees/related costs for partner courses (Harvard, WilmU, NAATE) 10,326

Costs for other partner organizations (Teach For All, TNTP, Jounce) 2,576

Principal Consultants 2,500

Excellent School Visits 1,750

Principal Mentors 1,000

Materials 750

Operating costs 17,024

Recruitment 595

Participant Fee (7,000)

Total 29,521

I also cringe at TFA even developing a principal certification program.  From their application:

Lead For Delaware’s candidate assessment process incorporates three types of assessment

data: (1) school leader competency ratings, (2) program completion and participation evidence,

and (3) standardized assessment scores. Cohort members must meet all criteria across these

three areas in order to be recommended for School Principal and Assistant Principal

certification (under Section 1591).

This program still has to be approved by Acting Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky.  It is my fervent hope he sees past the obvious benefit for TFA and puts a halt to this leap-frog program for leaders in Delaware education.

Teach For America Rejected & Slammed At Professional Standards Board Meeting Last Night **UPDATED**

Last night, the Professional Standards Board, a committee that looks at regulatory matters with educators in Delaware, had their monthly meeting.  Part of this meeting had presentations on two possible new school leadership programs.  The first was by Teach For America and a program called Lead For Delaware.  The second was presented by two educators from Sussex County, a program called Flex (Fostering Leadership Excellence).  This is for pending Regulation #1595- Certification Program for Leaders in Education.

In the past, programs brought forth by Teach For America (TFA) were usually accepted right off the bat with very little argument against it.  Last night this changed dramatically as the Chair of the Professional Standards Board (PSB), Byron Murphy, lambasted Teach For America for their arrogance and slamming of career teachers, as well as their tendency to use teaching as a stepping stone.  Byron Murphy also came down hard on the individual who presented the program, Jeremy Grant-Skinner, who is also the Senior Managing Director of this TFA program. Murphy claimed Grant-Skinner had absolutely no school leadership experience.  When it came time for a motion by the board to vote on the program, not one single member of the Professional Standards Board would enter a motion.

As a result, the Executive Director of the PSB, Chris Kenton, immediately went on to the next presentation and the educators from Sussex presented their FLEX program, and afterwards, the board approved it unanimously.  This is a tidal wave in Delaware of huge proportions.  It used to be a given that any TFA program would be approved, but last night’s decision is showing that perhaps Delaware’s love affair with TFA is coming to an end.  It was widely assumed by the DOE this TFA program would be approved by the PSB, and even TFA’s Executive Director Laurissa Schutt did not attend the meeting.  The Delaware DOE will NOT be happy about this decision.

*This article has been corrected. Chris Kenton did NOT leave the meeting after the first presentation and stayed until the end. My apologies to Mr. Kenton.

Below are the presentations from the PSB meeting last night.  The first two are the TFA project, and the last is the FLEX from the Sussex educators.

House Education Committee Meeting & Senate Bill #10: Extending TFA In Delaware For Five More Years, Live!

The House Education Committee in Delaware is having a meeting going over some of the education bills introduced in the 148th General Assembly this year.  First up is Senate Bill #10:

This Act makes technical changes to the Delaware Performance Appraisal System (DPAS) II Advisory Committee membership and meeting dates. Additionally, this Act clarifies language regarding the Committee’s duties in order to better provide advice to the Secretary of the Department of Education and the State Board of Education in the promulgation of regulations relating to DPAS II.

Senator David Sokola introduced the bill to the Education Committee.  The purpose of the bill is not to change the program but to add an additional five years due to the sunset period ending this year.  State Rep. Miro asked about pay scales.  Executive Director of TFA Delaware Laurissa Schutt took the podium and said teachers are relatively paid the same.  State Rep. Edward Osienski asked about oversight.  It was revealed TFA will be writing their own report on this.  State Rep. Kim Williams is asking about retention rates for TFA employees in Delaware schools.  She asked Schutt about changing the timeframe for teachers to stay from the 2 year program to a 4 year program.  Schutt could not commit to that.  State Rep. John Kowalko said he wants the bill extended to 2016 and not 2020.  He feels the TEMBO report commissioned by the Delaware DOE is very biased.  He doesn’t feel TFA should be writing their own reports for the state.

Howard High School Principal said they started with nine TFAers, and still have four that have stayed on.  Heath Chasanov, Superintendent of Woodbridge, spoke in support of the bill and TFA.  He is also speaking for Susan Bunting, Superintendent of Idnian River in support of the bill.  Donald Blakey, Super for Colonial, is also praising TFA and the bill.  Donna Johnson, State Board of Education, said she is happy with the collaboration between TFA and Professional Development of all teachers.  They look forward to working with the Professional Standards Board on Regulation 1507.

Kim Williams asked for more clarity on the reporting from the DOE on where the members are.  There needs to be more accuracy with reporting.  State Rep. Mike Ramone said one great employee from TFA can bring the whole quality of teachers up at a school.  Schutt said Brandywine and Newcastle County Vo-Tech want to work with them on teacher-mentoring program. She said “We are never going to take over anything.  We have 22 teachers, and we will never reach that unless we have that deep collaborative level.”

Watching the crowd, State Rep. Deb Heffernan is very interested in the comments and questions during this topic.  Rep. Miro just said he doesn’t trust any report that comes from the Delaware DOE.

Senate Bill #10 passed the House Education Committee with 1 no vote.