Teach for America visit
I spent yesterday morning at the orientation at St. John's University for the 550 new Teach for America corps members who will be teaching in NYC this fall. It was really inspirational seeing such a large, diverse group of bright, eager people committed to giving low-income minority kids a great education! (And I didn't realize TFA had grown so large -- according to its web site, "3,500 corps members are teaching in over 1,000 schools in 22 regions across the country.")
The event was a panel of 8-9 people that included UFT President Randi Weingarten and Eva Moskowitz, the courageous former head of the Education Committee of the NY City Council, who is now leading the new Harlem Success Charter School. I was hoping to see some fireworks, but was disappointed...
It was the first time I'd seen Randi in person and it was sobering -- she's very skilled at what she does. By the time she was finished with her comments, she'd led the audience to believe that she LIKES charter schools and is in favor of quickly removing incompetent teachers and paying more to teachers in the toughest schools -- AND NOBODY CALLED HER ON ANY OF THIS NONSENSE!!!!
It was also very sobering to hear questions from the corps members about charter schools. Based on three questioners and the widespread applause following their questions (statements, really), it was clear that large numbers of these corps members: a) have no clue regarding the facts about charter schools; and b) are skeptical if not outright hostile to them -- and this from an audience that should be our sweet spot! They will learn fast, but folks, we have A LOT of work to do!