I was present for the Nampa School Board meeting this past Tuesday, and presented along with a few other speakers to the board against signing a contract with TFA.
Sadly, the Trustees voted unanimously to proceed hiring Teach for America recruits starting next school year.
Some interesting items of note came out during the meeting; for example, former Luna Idaho Deputy Superintendent Roger Quarles, now working for the Albertson Foundation, has been working with Teach for America by meeting privately with districts around the state, including Nampa, to help TFA make their pitch.
In addition, it appears that the Albertson Foundation, at least for Nampa, is covering the entirety of the first year head-hunter fee to TFA. Next year the district will be responsible for $1,500 per TFA recruit in their second year, and the price of first year TFA will be negotiated.
A small victory: the district is only signing a one year contract with TFA instead of the traditional two year document. After a year, they will have to make another vote to proceed with their relationship with TFA.
Below is what I presented to the board.
By Levi B Cavener
Don’t worry about the swim instructor wearing floaties around his own arms while he “teaches” students how to swim. Oh, and ignore the training wheels attached to the cyclist instructor’s bicycle. Such is the advice given in Teach For America’s (TFA) response published in Idaho Education News to an Op-ed I authored in December critical of the organization.
The response, penned by TFA’s “special education specialist” Dhathri Chunduru, offers a detailed view of how the organization supports TFAers hired as special education instructors in Georgia. In her reply, Ms. Chunduru outlines the types of supports TFA provides to these new special education “teachers.”
To TFA’s credit, it appears that they offer some training critical to any would-be special educator. However, she seems to have missed the larger point. TFAers receive this training on the job. Yes, students and parents, your TFA “highly qualified teacher” has training wheels.
Are Idaho’s new physical education rules healthy?
By Levi B Cavener
In November of last year, the Idaho State Board of Education approved a new set of rules that require additional physical education instruction in Idaho’s schools. The new set of rules was a scaled down version of the original package and does not include a 2 credit PE graduation requirement. It does, however, require PE an hour a week for elementary students, and about 3 hours for middle school student every two weeks.
On the surface, this is great news. Every student in Idaho should have access to an excellent physical education curriculum promoting strong healthy habits. For the first time, students across the state will have equitable access to PE. Or will they? Continue reading
By Levi B Cavener
“We all know that we aren’t yet providing a world-class education for every child with a disability. And we won’t rest until we do that,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2010 while celebrating the anniversary of the Individuals With Disabilities Act (IDEA).
Indeed, there is good reason for Duncan to acknowledge that despite achieving such incredible victories for special education students our nation still has many hurdles to overcome with educating students with special needs. This is particularly true when ensuring that a “highly qualified” educator — not just on paper, but in practice — is leading the head of every special education classroom; such is my concern with an organization inaptly named, Teach For America (TFA).
At a December 10, 2013, Vallivue School Board meeting I listened to Nicole Brisbane, Idaho’s TFA point person, pitch her product. (The Albertson Foundation, a heavy donor to the district, had called them to see if they would meet with Ms. Brisbane.) During the presentation board members inquired about TFA’s ability to provide staffing for “hard-to-fill” positions, particularly special education. Brisbane was clear: TFA can provide “highly qualified” special education instructors. Continue reading
Idaho’s Promise is an organization that focuses on ensuring every student in Idaho is provided with a world class education, regardless of the zip code the student lives in.
Idaho’s Promise advocates for laws and policies that provide a first rate equitable learning experience for every student in Idaho’s classrooms. Current education policy has resulted in an unbalanced system in Idaho where students are not necessarily provided a uniform system of education as the Idaho Constitution requires.
Current issues of concern are an unbalanced system of taxation to fund districts, corporate ties to public charter schools, untrained professionals working with students as “highly qualified” instructors including Teach for America (TFA) employees, and corporate interference in public education policy through the guise of “philanthropy.”
This site is a platform to help encourage productive discussion, debate, and positive outcomes of education policy in Idaho.