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.