One of the more bizarre things happened today. Earlier today I came across a video on YouTube from the opening ceremony of the recent Philadelphia institute. One of the speakers was Dr. Camika Royal, a 1999 Baltimore alum who now has a P.hD in Urban Education. She is a Philadelphia native and studied for her doctorate at Temple in Philly. She has also worked for TFA in various capacities, and has spoken at events too. Really the ideal person to address the 700 new corps members in Philadelphia.
Her speech was surprisingly what I’d call ‘anti-reform.’ In Philadelphia they recently gutted the school system and want to turn most of the schools over to charter schools, which will be accompanied, of course, by plenty of teacher firings. She spoke out against this type of reform, surely something that all professors in Philly talk about every day. I wrote a post here, which included a link to the video and also a transcription of some of my favorite quotes. One gem is “By and large, educators here are not bad. Educators here are tired. Educators here are reform weary.” I also emailed Dr. Royal and asked if I could interview her.
Comments starting coming in. People on Twitter starting re-tweeting. Nobody could really believe that at a TFA event, someone could speak out against the current style of ‘reform’ practiced by many TFA alums, including Michelle Rhee (StudentsFirst), John White (Louisiana schools chief), Mark Sternberg (New York City deputy chancellor), and Cami Anderson (Newark schools chancellor), among others.
Then a few hours later I noticed that the video was gone. Now this video was put up by Dr. Royal, herself, so I don’t really know what happened. Maybe when she saw my request for an interview and then saw my blog she decided to stay as far away from me as possible. Maybe TFA ‘got to her.’ I really don’t know.
Have I gotten so controversial that just saying that I agree with some points that someone makes in a speech causes them to denounce everything they believe in? Surely Dr. Royal believed everything she said in this great speech. Surely she will have a long career which will include various published articles and books which will surely contain some of these beliefs about what passes as ‘reform’ nowadays.
If there is anyone at the Philly institute right now who has, or knows someone who made, a video of that speech, let me know. Even if not, I’d love to hear from the Philly corps about whether this speech caused any sort of stir within the corps. How about the CMAs in Philly? Did you use this speech as an opportunity to explain the sorts of things CMs should be prepared to discuss in the teachers’ lounge when they teach in Philly? Also, maybe some Philly people who saw the speech live, could you comment on the other post, just letting people know that I did not make up any of the quotes. I didn’t want to be accused of taking anything out of context, which is why I linked to the original video.
This is just so puzzling. If the speech was good enough to be said at the ceremony, and good enough to be posted on YouTube originally, why has it suddenly become bad because I liked it?