Jan 23 2013

Open Letters FROM Reformers I Know. Part 2: Wendy Kopp

Links to the rest of this series here

Though she was the last one to receive an open letter from me, Wendy Kopp is the second person to respond.  I’ll probably make some comments about the letter in the ‘comments’ section later on, but for now I want to give her the full forum.  You can read my letter to her here.

1/23/13

Dear Gary,

 

From my kids’ perspective, Darth Vader is one of the cooler things I’ve been compared to over the years. Thank you for your letter, and for starting this open letter series. I love the spirit. You raise a lot of important issues and I’ll get to as many of them as I can. I want to start by addressing your biggest concern: that Teach For America lacks ideological diversity, or at least fails to encourage and embrace it.

 

Active and vocal alumni like you are proof that there’s no shortage of diverse opinion within the Teach For America community. But you’re right that we haven’t done enough to highlight ideological diversity and reach out to alumni who feel that their opinions aren’t welcome. Part of the explanation is that before we embraced online forums and social media — largely in the past year — there were far fewer opportunities and places where we could surface alumni opinion.

 

Teach For America was built on the idea that our best hope of reaching “One Day” is to have thousands of alumni use their diverse experiences and ideas to effect change from inside and outside the education system. We cannot realize our vision without including individuals from many different backgrounds and perspectives. In fact, in the past I’ve chosen not to “take sides” or communicate my thinking on certain issues precisely because opinion varied so widely within our community. I felt responsible for creating a big tent. 

 

However, I’ve learned the hard way that silence just reinforces misunderstanding. Going forward, our goal is to show the plurality of opinion within our community and provide more outlets to challenge one another and share our best thinking.

 

I believe there is real misunderstanding about what opinions Teach For America wants to hear – misunderstanding we haven’t done enough to combat. When corps members and alumni assume their opinions defy conventional wisdom and no one wants to hear them, they often choose not to speak up. This becomes a self-perpetuating problem. The people who do speak up express similar views, which reinforces the impression that we all think one way and discourages dissenting opinions.

 

Changing this will require more than providing discussion forums – it involves the difficult work of changing culture. As you’ve noticed, over the past year we’ve made a concerted effort to do just that by encouraging honest engagement and debate on several platforms, both inside and outside the organization. After I wrote an op-ed on teacher rankings, we gave alumni who disagreed with me a place to express themselves in our alumni magazine One Day. Last year we launched our Pass The Chalk blog where we feature a range of opinion on the most controversial and consequential topics we face. Check out pieces like, “In Support of Teacher Tenure,” or “Why Won’t Back Down Doesn’t Bring Us Forward.” During the Chicago teachers strike we posted views from both sides.

 

It’s a disservice to paint our community members with a broad brush and say we’re all about “shutting down failing schools and firing teachers.” The “reformers” you lump together in fact vigorously disagree about the best policies and approaches. 

 

Allow me to make a plug here. It’s Teach For America’s responsibility to ensure that all alumni know their voices are heard and valued, and to surface the range of opinion they represent. But everyone in this community shares responsibility for the direction we take. We need more alumni to take the initiative to submit a blog post, convene a panel of alumni, or start a difficult conversation. It’s up to you to shape the direction of this movement.

                               

As for the 20th anniversary summit, your description doesn’t jive with what really went on. Diverse speakers and panelists including AFT President Randi Weingarten, DC Mayor Vince Gray, Los Angeles School Board member and alum Steve Zimmer, and Congressman John Lewis all offered different perspectives on Teach For America and the fight to end educational inequality. We hosted sessions on a wide range of issues our alumni told us were most important to them. 

 

In my opening speech I was clear that while we have learned a lot and made progress, we have yet to move the needle against educational inequality in the aggregate. We’re nowhere near claiming victory when only 8% of low-income students are graduating from college.

 

A core part of Teach For America’s mission has always been affecting positive change in the traditional public school system. 53% of our corps members and the majority of our alumni who stay in education work in district schools. Our alumni leadership team recently launched our School Systems Leadership Initiative, which encourages and prepares alumni to take leadership positions in their district systems.

 

If you read some of the articles I’ve written, you’ll know that I often speak out against the idea that teachers or unions are “the problem.” In the Atlantic, I described the current mistrust and micromanagement of educators as an impediment to reform and called for districts to empower them with more flexibility to meet students’ needs. In the Wall Street Journal, I wrote about how difficult it is for even the most exceptional teachers to achieve results working in schools and systems that aren’t designed to support them.

 

The challenges and complexities of our work are immense, and I’d never claim to have all the answers. Every week I’m humbled to learn new things. But complexity is no excuse for inaction when there’s a crisis this great and so much is at stake.

 

My evolving understanding of the best ways to close the opportunity gap is deeply informed by independent data and extensive first-hand experience in districts across the country over more than two decades. Time and again, when we see meaningful results in a classroom, school, or district, we see similar mindsets and practices behind it. That tells us we can, in fact, learn from and spread these successes. You don’t have to take my word for it – there are numerous studies and reports on what distinguishes effective teachers and schools.

 

I can’t respond to your blanket charge that our success stories are unfounded other than to say that when you think you’ve found a claim that doesn’t hold up to the evidence, you should challenge me directly. We believe strongly in transparency and accountability, which is why Teach For America encourages rigorous independent evaluations of our program. Our mission is too important to operate in any other way.  

 

KIPP is more than capable of speaking for itself so I won’t get in to a lengthy debate here. I’m sure they’d welcome a robust discussion on their methods and results, which even critics admit are some of the most impressive of any school in the country. Speculation that KIPP’s impact on student achievement is due to attrition or having more motivated families are claims disproven by third-party research by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and Mathematica Policy Research, Inc, which conducts an ongoing evaluation of KIPP and publishes reports on their findings.

 

I don’t think you are giving the principals and teachers at KIPP enough credit. The motivation you see from students and their families reflects the hard work they’ve put into building a strong school culture of achievement that’s contagious. Home visits and cultivating family involvement have been cornerstones of KIPP’s approach from the beginning. If you talk to KIPP parents, they’ll tell you that they became more invested and invigorated along the way because of the spirit of the school and its educators. That said, KIPP staff are their own toughest critics and would be the first to say they don’t have it all figured out and their current efforts are nowhere near good enough.

 

I’ll wrap up by saying I was struck by the analogy in your letter of Teach For America as a parent watching two children competing against each other at a sporting event. Every time we talk about education this way, we alienate the majority of people who don’t consider themselves partisans of any camp —their loyalty is to their kids and solutions that work.

 

Education leaders and districts across the country have shown us that we can bridge traditional divides and work together to do what’s best for kids. But we have to stop thinking of ourselves as locked in an ideological battle and focus on doing everything in our power to give students today the education they deserve. I believe that entails an obligation to understand what’s working and act on the lessons from successful teachers and schools while asking what more we must do to realize our vision of equal opportunity for all.      

 

I look forward to talking more the next time we run into each other near the Swedish meatballs.

 

Until then,
Wendy

39 Responses

  1. meghank

    I certainly think a lot more of her because she wrote this.

    That said, I thought it was interesting that she didn’t say anything about evaluating teachers using value-added scores and the “culture of fear” (as Gary put it) that promotes.

    In fact, it does more than create a culture of fear, it skims off teachers from the profession year after year (at random) until eventually public schools will have very few truly experienced teachers remaining. This is such an essential issue that I’m surprised that she let it pass without weighing in on it.

    • gkm001

      Certainly this is a gracious and well-written letter. But I have to question the claim that “Time and again, when we see meaningful results in a classroom, school, or district, we see similar mindsets and practices behind it.” Meaningful educational results are themselves varied, and a variety of philosophies, practices, and cultures support different ones, to varying degrees. PBS Newshour recently ran a segment on the “deep learning” at several public schools that take experiential, creative, project-based approaches: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june13/charter_01-30.html

      These schools are not “similar” to the no-excuses, data-driven charter schools that I have visited in Chicago, the ones that bristle with demerits and rewards and point systems for everything. They are quite different. Both kinds of schools are aiming to teach academic and social skills, but the PBS-featured schools rely on the intrinsic motivations of choice, creativity, and curiosity to help students get there, and they also value civic engagement.

      I know which kind of school I would want my children to attend. What about TFA’s funders, supporters, and alumni? Would they choose the same “mindsets and practices” they advocate for other people’s children? Or would they claim that their own children should be taught differently?

      As John Dewey wrote a century ago, “What the best and wisest parent wants for his children, that must the community want for all its children. Any other aim for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted on, it destroys our democracy.”

      Real education reform would mean giving all children what the reformers want for their own children: rich and varied experiences, individual attention, arts integration, the challenge of meaningful work, a welcoming culture that invites parent participation, an interdisciplinary curriculum that teaches children to be effective thinkers and engaged citizens.

      I am trying not to be snarky here, but I can’t help asking, if KIPP is so great, why don’t Wendy Kopp’s children attend?

  2. Mary

    meghank, she has weighed in on the topic in the op-ed she mentioned: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203458604577263603261494594.html Specifically: “We should make individual teacher ratings available to school principals to inform their work recruiting and developing teaching faculties, but releasing them publicly undermines the trust they need to build strong, collaborative teams.”

  3. James

    Wendy,

    Thanks for responding — I admire your good humor and open mind. I would recommend that you seriously consider the current state of TFA’s organizational culture. I challenge you to ask 100 — or some smaller number if you’re too busy — CMs and/or staff if they have heard the words ‘mindset chat’ during their time with the organization. I suspect, if you probe further, you’ll discover that the words are not positively recalled. TFA needs to do a better job of letting both staff and CMs know that diverse opinions are welcome, but it also needs to — at the same time — start actively welcoming those diverse opinions.

    Thanks, again, for taking time out of your busy schedule to respond.

    James
    James

  4. A teacher

    You wrote her a letter. She responded. Big deal…common courtesy. Let’s celebrate.

    • Gary Rubinstein

      Do I seem like I’m celebrating?

  5. “When corps members and alumni assume their opinions defy conventional wisdom and no one wants to hear them, they often choose not to speak up. This becomes a self-perpetuating problem.”

    I didn’t assume. I made an effort to communicate many times toward the end of my time as a CM and in the years following. On all occasions I got either no feedback, or was politely but firmly dismissed. Perhaps Mrs. Kopp’s optimism about this having improved in recent years is justifiable, but given my own experience at the private side of TFA communications versus the public relations face, I have to admit to some skepticism.

    • This is fascinating to me, because every staff member I’ve encountered has been nothing but supportive every time I voice a concern.

      Very recent example: I told my MTLD I was frustrated that my classroom culture isn’t where I want it to be, and he /immediately/ blocked out his Friday afternoon to look at an hour of classroom video with me and find things to fix.

      Less recent example: I had the chance to sit down with someone on the national recruitment strategy team, and I told him how dissatisfied I was with their model of spamming “leaders” with invitations to coffee chats and emphasizing all the prestigious grad school/industry options after two years. We ended up spending a fair amount of time brainstorming alternative campus recruitment strategies that would target students with a long-term interest in education.

      I guess it just goes to show that there is no monolithic “TFA experience” and that so much of one’s impression of the organization depends on the region and the people one interacts with.

      • parus

        If you’d been “defying conventional wisdom” in either of those examples, I would probably find this more compelling. A MLTD doing his actual job and a recruiter gathering ideas about how to increase recruiting…not exactly transgressive, is it?

        • I guess I was speaking more to general dissatisfaction with TFA staff. But how about this, then: my MTLD and I had a 2-hour-long conversation just yesterday during which I argued that if TFA is truly pro-justice, it needs to throw its weight behind the fight against issues like racial bias in high-stakes testing, lack of health education in low-income neighborhoods, inequitable funding for schools, the detrimental effects of the charter model, the invalidity of VAM, etc. He not only wholeheartedly agreed but said many others at staff summits he’s attended also agree, and described his plans to possibly move to another role where he can play a bigger role in changing the direction of the organization.

          My point is to show that while your skepticism is perfectly reasonable in light of your negative experience with TFA, there are also examples of positive, constructive experiences out there.

          • James

            Gary, looking forward to your response to Wendy!

    • Evan McKittrick

      As an alum who had a positive experience with Teach For America, I feel that one of the greatest values I bring to the organization is a balanced perspective. My closest friends in the corps were some of the most dissatisfied. Two of them in particular feel very similarly – that no one at TFA wants to hear their criticisms.

      I would argue, though, that the culture at TFA of rigorous planning and continuous improvement responds well to criticisms and dissenting viewpoints. To me, the key is not to point out the flaws in any singular approach to solving educational inequity; but rather, to celebrate the strengths that each player brings to the table. With this mindset, focusing on the strengths in addition to the weaknesses, I’ve been well received, even when my viewpoints are critical of TFA’s approach.

  6. KrazyTA

    Gary, IMHO Wendy Kopp is a savvy politico who responded to your “open letters” postings because your blog is becoming a force to be reckoned with. Most of what she wrote is the usual public relations spin. For example, notice she wants it both ways about her charterite/privatizer partners: she eschews a “lengthy debate” about KIPP because they can defend themselves quite well, thank you, and then jumps to their defense. She is publicly for diversity of thought in TFA—and then parus is skeptical that this is so in practice. And so on…

    There is one thing she wrote that may seem in retrospect to have been ill-chosen on her part: that when you find dubious TFA claims “you should challenge me directly.”

    Good. She’s on the record. “No excuses” will suffice, she can’t “back down” on her freely chosen public promise.

    I look forward to a series of exchanges on this blog between the two of you and the ensuing open-ended discussion [which I am sure will be very heated at times]. I know you will keep your end of the bargain—will she?

    :)

    • mg

      Didn’t she recently make some absurd comment about how long TFA teachers taught on average?
      I don’t recall exactly…

  7. Michael Fiorillo

    Observe what TFA does, not what Wendy Kopp says.

    Doing that, you’ll see that this organization is joined at the hip with interests that are driving the high stakes testing mania, the narrowing of curricula that follows from that, school closings, teacher firings and worsening work conditions. We also know that the organization admittedly seeks to develop “leaders” (not teachers), the most prominent of whom are synonymous with the most aggressive and vicious aspects of so-called school reform.

    It’s a red herring to argue whether diverse opinions exist among corps members and alumni; we can safely assume they do. We can also grant that the overwhelming majority of recruits enter the organization with idealism and good faith.

    Granting all that with regard to the organization’s behavior, the question remains, “So what?” Actions speak louder than (carefully crafted but empty) words.

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m a newcomer to this world — I just committed to my ’13 Corps assignment after spending two years in the private sector. Your take is really interesting to me. Can you possibly elaborate on the “interests” you describe TFA is joined at the hip to? It was my understanding that the emphasis on testing is coming from federal initiatives. Is TFA, as an organization, in some way driving that policy-making? If so, how and why? I’d also be really interested to hear this community’s thoughts on more effective alternatives to improving education. I see so much criticism and not much offered by way evidence for a better model.

      • Michele

        A better model – small class sizes that allow for individualized attention, reduction of time wasted on standardized tests and test prep, music, art, theater programs, a fully stocked library in every school. Oh wait, I think I just described the model of school where Bill Gates, Rahm Emmanuel, Barack Obama and NY State Ed commissioner John King send their kids! Yes, that’s the model we want.

  8. I can’t speak to how ideological diversity among current corps members is or isn’t welcomed and encouraged. But as the person first hired to develop and lead TFA’s efforts to encourage and support alumni pursuing roles in politics, policy, and advocacy, I can attest that seeking and prioritizing ideological diversity was a constant.

    I would not have been hired without a commitment to ideological diversity; my own politics are deeply held and obvious (I’m sure some would say strident), and I never felt constrained offering perspectives and experiences regardless of whether I imagined my colleagues might or might not agree with me. More often than not, I found my colleagues interested in learning, not interested in stifling opinion or manipulating alumni toward pre-ordained paths.

    I particularly should call out the alumni affairs staff in the regions. As a person who has worked nationally on behalf of a variety of organizations trying to inspire folks to pursue public service, the TFA regional alumni affairs directors (I don’t know what they may be called now) were some of the most open minded, intellectually curious, respectful , and effective supporters of folks thinking about policy and advocacy roles I’ve ever met.

    And during the four years that I built and led the efforts, ideological diversity was something we discussed constantly –and, to the points others are making – took action on constantly as well. I was challenged to think about how to build opportunities that welcomed a full spectrum of perspectives on policy, and held accountable for whether alumni took advantage of those opportunities and told us they were of value.
    I moderated countless panels, both at regional summits and online, featuring wildly diverse – sometimes discordant – alumni and non-alumni perspectives on everything from charter schools to alternative certification routes to anti-poverty efforts. I concur that these efforts are only as meaningful as the individuals they reached (and I’m sure TFA/Wendy’s assertion that social media has helped them be more inclusive is correct), but it is important to note how deliberate and determined the efforts to welcome and support ideological diversity among alums in the politics and policy fields were.

    • Michael Fiorillo

      As someone who never was a one of “the best and brightest,” perhaps it’s just me, but there’s a contradiction I can’t figure out: all these assertions of ideological diversity among alumni, yet there’s an uncanny resemblance to their behavior when they are in positions of power.

      They all aggressively turn public resources – ever more chunks of the education budget, real estate and access to students – over to private interests.

      They all receive money from the same funding sources – Gates, Broad, Walton, Bradley, et. al. – to implement these policies and support charter schools, while they simultaneously impose austerity measures and more testing upon the public schools.

      They use the same buzz words, talking points, euphemisms and Yay Team Can Do-isms – “Transformational Change!” “21st Century Skills!” “Great (meaning overworked and compliant) Teachers!” – to an largely uncritical media that passes it along almost word for word.

      With the exception of Dr. Camika Royal and Gary, please inform us about notable TFA alums who are publicly skeptical of, or maybe even actively opposed to, what this organization actually does.

      Are any of them running school districts? Disbursing foundation grants? Running well-funded advocacy organizations?

      Please inform.

      • Mercedes Schneider

        Excellent questions, Michael. I look forward to reading the responses.

  9. veteran

    As for the 20th anniversary summit, your description doesn’t jive with what really went on. Diverse speakers and panelists including AFT President Randi Weingarten, DC Mayor Vince Gray, Los Angeles School Board member and alum Steve Zimmer, and Congressman John Lewis all offered different perspectives on Teach For America and the fight to end educational inequality. We hosted sessions on a wide range of issues our alumni told us were most important to them.

    Sorry Wendy I would have to agree with Gary on this point. At summit, yes you did have some of these people but they were NOT on the front line of the opening or closing assembly. In fact, you didn’t have one teacher in your opening ceremony and nothing on teaching the entire first day. I’ll give you credit that you gave a quick shout out to 90′s you met at breakfast who were still teaching. It would have been nice to have highlighted teaching success rather than just reformer success in almost all the workshops and in the opening.

  10. KrazyTA

    Fascinating how the leaders have one impression of what they’re doing and lots of the rank-and-file have quite another.

    Seems like another example of how the charterites/privatizers display such a disconnect between words/promises/hype and action/behavior/results.

    Gary, I am so glad I stumbled upon your blog a few months ago. You are a credit to your profession.

    Keep on keepin’ on.

  11. KrazyTA

    Gary: please excuse my impertinence for posting yet a third time on this particular topic.

    However, in accordance with the generally positive tone you set on your website, upon reflection I am sure I did not make the best use of the space you so graciously afforded me.

    I need to make amends. And to eat crow if necessary.

    This paragraph in Wendy’s statement kept calling out to me: “If you read some of the articles I’ve written, you’ll know that I often speak out against the idea that teachers or unions are “the problem.” In the Atlantic, I described the current mistrust and micromanagement of educators as an impediment to reform and called for districts to empower them with more flexibility to meet students’ needs. In the Wall Street Journal, I wrote about how difficult it is for even the most exceptional teachers to achieve results working in schools and systems that aren’t designed to support them.”

    Wendy: I am sure that you would agree that actions speak much louder than words. So I would urge you to remember the famous phrase recently carried by the mass media “an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere.” Right now there are teachers at Garfield HS in Seattle that are putting themselves at risk because they refuse to violate their ethical obligations as educators by subjecting their students to time- and effort-wasting tests. There is an online petition that supports their positive stand in favor of effective teaching and in defense of the integrity of the teaching profession.

    You would do a world of good by signing that petition and publicly proclaiming your support for their actions so no one can misunderstand your name on the petition as some sort of sick online prank. By doing this you would lend significant moral weight inside of TFA—an organization that has considerable staff, financial resources and sway with important public officials and private groups—to seriously considering putting its heft behind the growing effort to support those courageous individuals.

    I know that some might urge you to weigh a “symbolic” act against the damaging “practical” losses that might ensue. However, I am sure you would agree that progress in any great endeavor requires courage and perseverance even in the face of painful setbacks. A better education for all is one of the great issues of our time. Those teachers need your help now.

    To be quite honest, I will admit that a few months ago I read someone online describe your organization as “Teach For Wendy’s Wallet.” I laughed as I read it. Please prove me a fool; make me eat crow. I won’t promise I will always agree with you or TFA, but it would certainly make me look at both in a new light.

    Online missives can be misread in unintended ways [once I posted a satiric comment that was taken as a straight forward expression of opinion]. I meant what I wrote above: please sign the petition and take a public stand in support of those brave teachers. Very few people have the position and national standing you have, so if you stand up for those Garfield HS teachers it WILL make a difference.

  12. skepticnotcynic

    I

  13. skepticnotcynic

    Do you all really think Wendy is going to give an honest assessment of what really goes on behind closed doors?

    Actions “always” speak louder than words, and TFA’s behavior is one thing, while their supposed candid dialogue is another. Talk is cheap and very easy to provide while living the good life on the sidelines and on the cocktail circuit.

    Meanwhile the teachers and school administrators in the trenches, who do the real work day in and day out, not only have to listen to the “reformers” pontificate, they have to put up with their ridiculous policies that TFA endorses. The policies do nothing more than increase the workload of educators in unproductive ways and makes the “most productive” want to leave the most difficult schools for better working conditions.

    TFA has willingly or unwillingly contributed to the deprofessionalization of the teaching profession, which is undeniable.

    Wendy, if you want to help close the “opportunity gap,” leave it up to the professionals.

    • ITeach

      And donate the j crew tshirts to the homeless. Start walking the walk Wendy…maybe go into the classroom and teach for a few years, too. You never know you might be considered “in need of improvement”. Gasp!

  14. Michele

    Gary, would you please ask Ms. Kopp to explain why she was featured in Fast Company Magazine in an article entitled, 10 Business Conversations that Changed Our World? I am providing the link here although the title in online version differs slightly from the print edition: http://www.fastcompany.com/3004348/facebook-pixar-10-conversations-changed-our-world Regardless, Fast Company is a business magazine and Ms. Kopp and her TFA business venture placed#5, just after “Steve Jobs Goes to the Movies”, and right before, “Mass Retail Meets High- End Design.” I thought it was all about educating the kids, not some business venture!

    • Barbara

      Michele,

      Spot on. I am always amazed at how the TFA business model is never scrutinized just because they claim to work for the better of children. TFA is nothing more then poverty pimps looking to profit on the week and oppressed.

  15. It’s very hard to take this letter as a serious response when it cites the same lousy statistics and questionable studies that inspire reasoned critique. If Ms. Kopp truly wished to demonstrate that willingness to entertain diverse opinions and true commitment to equity, admitting that reasonable minds disagree about what constitutes “rigorous independent evaluation” would be a good start.

    I think it’s somewhat unfair to put the burden of diverse opinions on alumni, too. I don’t know that publishing columns against extremely unpopular movies means that TFA is open to hosting a real conversation on educational equity, particularly when all of their national leadership spouts the same line.

    All in all, I think this is a sad statement on how little true reflection occurs at TFA. This is all the more depressing because teaching requires open and honest reflection; TFA should be modeling that.

    • Steve M

      E. Rat’s first paragraph states the real issue. The rest is all fluff and nonsense.

      As predicted, her answer was essentially a non-answer.

  16. B

    I know there’s a disconnect between what she says and what she does, but you have to admit that there’s a lot to like in what she says.

    Kopp’s WRITING puts her squarely at odds with Obama et al. and Race to the Top. The best I can tell from reading her work is that she is against federal mandates and top-down reforms. I’m no fan of TFA, but am I wrong to think of Kopp as being on the right side of a lot of these issues?

    • Michele

      I’d say you are wrong. I think you need to Michael Fiorello’s post again – it doesn’t matter what she writes!

  17. DCParent

    I couldn’t help but notice how quickly Wendy shifted Diversity into diverse opinions. When my African american son attended EL Haynes school his teachers over 1st to 5th grade became increasingl white and less and less cuturally competent as the school committed itself to being a traiing ground fro TFAers. On one paper when my 4th grader wrote of our visits to Budapest a TFa teacher wrote in red in The Country?
    I thought about writing back to her but just resolved to leave a school b/c it was clear to me that the schools commitment was to its adult TFA ers not to inquisitive black boys who yes even occasionally traveled abroad to see friends in far off places like Hungary. Imagine.
    I don’t Wendy as you do, but I suspect she has set in motion a type of ‘do good’ cultural incompetency that is beyond repair. Just my experience.

  18. DCParent

    Sorry I should have said that I don;t know Wendy as you do.

  19. DCParent

    From what I’ve seen here in DC, KIPP does Cream heavily which means that it’s sucess is largely do to taking in young people and pushing out those who do not perform. Yet Another culturally incompetent and insensitive approach– And a real spirit killer. IMO what KIPP does is cumulative damage that is far worse than questioning whether a young black boy actually knows what he is writing about that we experienced firsthand.

    My son and I simply were not going to drink more deeply of the TFA/KIPP cool aid-lest it kill our spirits entirely.
    That’s it for me
    Good luck Gary.

  20. Mike

    Neither of the studies Wendy cites support her claim. Comparing raw rates of attrition between two schools makes the false assumption that all attrition is due to identical factors–that a student transferring from a public school to a charter has the same motivation as one switching back.
    Similarly, Looking at differences in outcomes between students accepted and denied in a lottery system says nothing about parental motivation because entering the lottery requires that motivation in the first place!
    Both studies are predicated on the notion that the students entering charter schools from traditional public schools are a random sample, and there is no reason this should be true.

  21. Educator

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