1. Maybe the best piece of education journalism I’ve read this weekend is this piece by Owen Davis. He attempts to synthesize all of the recent TFA-critic movements and to find common threads throughout them. A couple of the former corps members’ stories really resonated with me. For instance, Marie Levy-Pabst’s story was especially salient:
Another side of his argument finds expression in Marie Levey-Pabst, a 2004 TFA alumna who pursued women’s studies and anti-racist theory in college. Now a public-school teacher in Boston, she argued on Anthony Cody’s blog that TFA isn’t only unable to prepare its corps for the complex dynamics present when poor children of color receive a teacher who is, on average, whiter and more privileged than they. Worse, the program serves as a vehicle and expression of that privilege.
At Institute, she groaned at being assigned Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Bacpack,” a standby of its genre that she had read multiple times. She asked if one introductory essay—indeed, any reading— could fully inoculate recruits from pernicious bigotries like colorblind racism and the white savior complex. Moreover, the cursory discussions left many of her fellow recruits “stuck on the idea that they aren’t racist,” precisely the danger of colorblind racism.
If you think this piece is too critical, Owen Davis also offers up some concrete solutions on his Tumblr. One solution that I hadn’t heard before involves recruiting high school seniors from low-income communities to become teachers:
As Matt Barnum, another critical TFA alum, has pointed out, TFA spends gobs of money on recruitment and training: about $38,000 per corps member. That’s enough to provide scholarships to low-income people who’d like to become teachers, and who’d be more likely to teach in their own neighborhoods. And that doesn’t include recruitment costs.
2. Dr. Andre Perry writes at The Grio about the importance of hearing more black voices of innovation in education. He says black communities are often seen as the antagonist to narratives about education reform that have white, idealistic protagonists. Perhaps the best part is when he goes into the history of education of African Americans post-slavery. African Americans, once freed, had actually started to educate themselves:
However, upon the Freedmen’s survey of the educational terrain, officials found “native schools,” schools taught by ex-slaves, already in existence. The ex-slave’s thirst for education illustrates an essential principle in black education. Private and religious schools should always have a place in our quest for universal education because they exemplify some of the highest forms of self-reliance and determination. Evidence of self-reliance manifested in the establishment of schools reminds us that charter schools or vouchers are nothing new and they have a deep connection to black history.
3. Ashley Woods over at Huffington Post Detroit covers the White Entrepreneurial Guy Meme. For the life of me, I don’t understand why people like Jason Lorimer don’t take these kinds of criticisms more seriously.