A Teach for America logo
by Steve Timmer
May 23, 2012, 3:30 PM

Teach for America: the ALEC connection

You knew there had to be one, didn’t you?

You probably won’t surprised either to learn that once Teach for America “teachers” complete their grueling five-week training course, and spend two years in the classroom, they’re ready for their next assignment: writing educational policy nation wide. Here’s one Portland, Oregon resident’s glimpse of how this works:

Last summer, quite by accident, I met a group of about six young adults on the MAX here in Portland who were traveling from the airport to train for their new jobs. They were talking about having just finished their teaching jobs and how happy they were to be done with it. Being an unemployed teacher myself, I listened for a while and then struck up a conversation. They identified themselves as Teach for America corps members who had just completed their obligatory two year stints in the classroom. They were headed to the Stand for Children offices to be trained in writing education policy. Most had been hired to work as legislative assistants in state houses around the country. I asked a few probing questions about their education expertise, especially in policy. Turns our none of them had any education credentials. Some had worked on their masters degrees during teaching, but none had studied education or education policy. They really didn’t get my point. The arrogance was palpable. I finally asked one of them point blank, “Don’t you think you should have some education and experience before writing education policy?” They assured me that over the next two weeks (I think, anyway, short time) they would be trained to do it.

The two links are from a website and organization called Great Schools for America. If you follow the second link above, you’ll see that Great Schools for America has been following Stand for Children, and it’s just another garden variety business-backed “non-profit” dedicated to destroying public education. The next step for the “graduates” of Stand for Children is to fan out across the country to become legislative assistants and such.

It’s just like Tinker to Evers to Chance.

In addition to the anecdote quoted above, you can find at the first link a specific example of how this works, involving Leadership for Education Equity (LEE), the political arm of Teach for America. Here’s an opportunity that LEE wants to tell the TFA alums about:

Well, isn’t that neat? The ALEC templates for destroying public education are well known. And championed by legislators like Pat Garofalo Republican House Education Chair, who is an ALEC member and sits on its education “task force.”

Less known, however, is the role of DFL state senator Terri Bonoff, who carried the Teach for America bill in the Minnesota Legislature a couple of years ago. I expressed my concern to her that TFA was just the beginning of the initiative to destroy public education, and she protested, Oh no, it’s not!

Well, it is. Just as is the elimination of teacher tenure protection, vetoed by Governor Dayton this year, which Bonoff also supported.

If the DFL retakes the Minnesota Senate this year, guess who is in line to become the Education Committee chair? With Bonoff in charge of the agenda, we can expect a steady stream of TFA/Stand for Children/LEE/ALEC bills.

And they’ll be harder for Governor Dayton to veto, because they’ll have come from his party.

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