Feb 27 2013

A Tale of Two Open Letters

Wendy Kopp announced that she is stepping down as CEO of Teach For America, and around that time on The Huffington Post, a TFA alum named Kate Casas wrote an open letter to Wendy.  This letter was in stark contrast to the one I wrote which I was pretty proud of and which actually got written about in The New York Times and The Washington Post.

In this letter, Casas complains that Wendy has not been ‘reformy’ enough:

During the eight years that I have been associated with Teach for America, I haven’t always loved the organization. In fact, there were a few desperate moments when I was in the classroom that I was quietly cursing you. More recently, there have been times that I wished you and your team would make a bigger political splash, push the envelope, and dare lawmakers to challenge the status quo.

Here’s another excerpt:

Without TFA there would be no KIPP-Inspire in Saint Louis to have proven that the achievement gap between African American and white students can be closed. Without TFA the conversation in the Missouri General Assembly and legislatures across America would not be focused on protecting great teachers, increasing access to high quality schools for all kids, and providing transparent data to parents. Without TFA education entrepreneurs like Alicia Herald and Munro Richardson who founded myedmatch.com would not be using their talents to find and place great teachers. Without TFA political leaders like Mike Johnston (D-CO) would not be supporting groundbreaking legislation that allows us to reimagine what American education can be. As you know, this list could go on and on. The outcomes you have produced for students are amazing. The work you have done to ensure that the network of brilliant people dedicated to improving outcomes for kids is deep and broad is an invaluable asset. So for all this and so much more, I thank you and the amazing team of people you have assembled at TFA.

I have to wonder what strings were pulled to get this P.R. piece into the Huffington Post.  I also wonder if this was written to counteract any ‘damage’ that my open letter and Wendy’s pretty thoughtful response might have caused.

One Response

  1. Steve M

    I’m pretty sure that your open letter did not do any lasting damage, so don’t get too pained.

    The Huff Post editors have had a pro-TFA, pro-charter bias for a couple years now. But, every time one of the reformers’ screeds comes out, it has been shot down by the general readership (read, hordes of public school teachers) in the comments section. I’ve noticed that the frequency of such pieces has been decreasing over the last few months so, either the editors are finally seeing how the wind blows, or the reformers are digging in their heels.

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

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