I have spent a lot of time, over the past year, criticizing TFA alums who have gone on to become education ‘reformers.’ These are the people who after two or three years of teaching have entered the leadership pipeline and have now become heads of districts, states, or started their own ‘advocacy’ organizations.
TFA seems to want to make it seem that all alumni are on board with this new style of reckless reform that is based on shutting down ‘failing’ schools and firing ‘bad’ teachers.
So I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the opening speeches that happened last week at the 2012 Philadelphia institute. One of the speakers was Dr. Camika Royal, a 1999 Baltimore TFA alum who has recently gotten her Ph.D in Urban Education. In a short 7 minute speech, she is very clear that she is not a fan of the current ‘reform’ movement. She tears into the recent reform plan that comes right out of the Michelle Rhee, John White, Cami Anderson, and Mark Sternberg playbook where they want to replace ‘failing’ schools with privately managed charters.
This is really amazing to me. I wonder how the TFA staffers felt about this speech. Some of the points she made got small bursts of applause while silence from others.
Does TFA not realize that this scholar is on ‘my’ side?
I have put the video below, with some key quotes below that.
[Update: The video was mysteriously taken down after my post. Good thing I collected the best quotes before that happened.]
“Recently, there has been a constant state of flux and reform producing lateral movement but little to lift us higher or take us forward.”
“The mayor appointed school board was disbanded and replaced with a governor appointed school reform commission whose latest reform plan is to educate by abdicating its responsibility for the schools that have been most difficult to manage.”
“It doesn’t matter what you see, or what you’ve read about schools and educators here, don’t believe the hype. Our schools are more than the lie of successful charters and failing districts. Our educators are more than the false dichotomy of good vs bad, of us vs. them.”
“By and large, educators here are not bad. Educators here are tired. Educators here are reform weary.”
“Our students are more than test scores, graduation rates, and disciplinary issues.”
“Our education is more than failure rhetoric and the achievement gap misnomer.”
I have written a follow up to this post here.