Tag Archives: Wendy Kopp

Matt Damon’s mother is wrong – Class Struggle – The Washington Post

16 Jan

Almost all of us say that as a nation we should work out our differences and unite to solve our problems. But we don’t mean it.

Exhibit A is the bad blood between the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teacher union, and Teach for America, the most popular public-service option for graduates of selective colleges.

The NEA has been at odds with TFA since the teacher-recruitment program began. NEA leaders dislike the idea, conceived in 1989 by then 22-year-old Princeton undergraduate Wendy Kopp, of giving young people selected for academic achievement and ambition just five weeks of summer training before having them teach in some of our lowest-performing urban and rural public schools. TFA’s steady growth and rising status at prestigious universities has not soothed NEA’s distress. Continue reading


Why Teach For America Is Not Welcome in My Classroom | LA Progressive

8 Jan

Every spring, without fail, a Teach for America recruiter approaches me and asks if they can come to my classes and recruit students for TFA, and every year, without fail, I give them the same answer.


Until Teach for America becomes committed to training lifetime educators and raises the length of service to five years rather than two, I will not allow TFA to recruit in my classes. The idea of sending talented students into schools in impoverished areas, and then after two years encouraging them to pursue careers in finance, law, and business in the hope that they will then advocate for educational equity really rubs me the wrong way.

It was not always thus.  Ten years ago, when a Teach for America recruiter first approached me,  I was enthusiastic about the idea of recruiting my most idealistic and talented students for work in poor schools.  I allowed TFA representative to make presentations in my classes, filled with urban studies and African American studies majors.  Several of my best students applied, all of whom wanted to become teachers, and most of whom came from the kind of high-poverty neighborhoods  where TFA proposed to send its recruits.

Not one of them was accepted! Continue reading

Leading Our Profession: Dennis2Delegates

6 Jan

The following is NEA president Dennis Van Roekel’s response to the controversy that has developed over the op-ed piece he co-authored with Teach for America CEO Wendy Kopp:

Hello Delegates and Happy New Year!

Thanks to many of you who have responded to my post about Leading the Profession: NEA’s Three-Point Plan for Reform and the major strategies guiding our efforts. I am deeply proud of the Association’s ongoing work in this area and encourage you to visit nea.org to read the three-point plan and other related items.

Also, I wanted to take an opportunity to respond to comments on my op-ed piece in USA Today with Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America. I believe leadership involves a willingness to speak with, listen to, and collaborate with a variety of people, oftentimes on issues where there may be differences of opinion. Following the call in our three-point plan to both raise the bar for entry into the profession and maintain high standards of practice in the classroom, it is more important than ever for us to work with all education stakeholders willing to collaborate with us if we are to truly improve the profession and provide a great education for our students. Continue reading

Matt Damon, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Decline NEA Education Award Nomination Over USA Today Op-Ed

5 Jan

Matt Damon and his mother, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, have declined a nomination for the Friend of Education award from the National Education Association’s Massachusetts arm — because of the NEA’s collaboration with Teach For America on a USA Today op-ed.

In a letter Wednesday to NEA President Dennis Van Roekel, Carlsson-Paige, a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University, says that she and Damon had originally planned to accept the nomination when they discussed the possibility over the summer.

But in December, Van Roekel and TFA Founder and CEO Wendy Kopp co-authored a piece in USA Today on how to improve America’s teachers.

“I have decided that because of your collaboration with TFA, it would not be wise for me or for Matt to be nominated for the Friend of Education Award,” Carlsson-Paige writes in her letter. “I regret this turn of events.” Continue reading

The Odd Couple: Dennis & Wendy – Bridging Differences – Education Week

5 Jan

Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch have found themselves at odds on policy over the years, but they share a passion for improving schools. Bridging Differences will offer their insights on what matters most in education.

Dear Deborah,

While we were on holiday break, Dennis Van Roekel and Wendy Kopp co-signed an opinion piece in USA Today, setting off a heated controversy.

It was a surprising statement, mainly because of its authors and what they represent. Here was the president of the nation’s largest teachers’ union, with more than 3 million members, joining in solidarity with the founder of an organization that recruits and assigns several thousand college graduates each year for short-term commitments to teaching jobs (many of them in non-union charter schools). One can only imagine the intense editorial negotiations between the staffs of these two powerful organizations.

Only two weeks earlier, NEA had released a statement calling for the reform of the teaching profession. NEA proposed that all new teachers should have a full year of residency under the supervision of a master-teacher and should be required to pass a rigorous, classroom-based performance assessment. These recommendations are directly opposed to TFA’s policy of placing its recruits into teaching jobs with only five weeks of training. Continue reading

Has the NEA warmed up to Teach for America? – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

5 Jan

There is a growing backlash against National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel’s recent collaborations with Teach for America leader Wendy Kopp on the issue of teacher preparation.

Some NEA members have written on blogs that they are furious at Van Roekel, and early childhood expert Nancy Carlsson-Paige just declined an opportunity for her and her son, actor and activist Matt Damon, to be nominated for the Friend of Education Award from the NEA.Damon spoke last year at the Save Our Schools rally in Washington held to protest the Obama administration education policies; Carlsson-Paige is a professor of early childhood education at Lesley University in Boston. They agreed a few months ago to be nominated for the award from the NEA, the country’s largest labor union and professional organization. But Carlsson-Paige just sent a letter to Van Roekel telling him she and Damon would decline any nomination because of concern over his collaboration with Kopp.

The NEA and the American Federation of Teachers, which combined have more than 4 million members, have long opposed the 20-year-old Teach for America. TFA recruits newly minted college graduates who are not education majors and gives them five weeks of summer training before placing them in classrooms in high-poverty schools. Recruits are asked to commit to only two years of teaching. The unions have argued that the country’s neediest students need highly trained teachers committed to the profession. Continue reading

Teach for America: Liberal mission helps conservative agenda – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post

26 Dec

This was written by Andrew Hartman, who teaches history at Illinois State University. He is the author of Education and the Cold War: The Battle for the American School. This was originally published at jacobinmag.com. It is long but well worth your time.

The job of the American public school teacher has never been so thankless. In states across America, cutting teacher salaries and pensions has become the most popular method for fixing budget deficits. New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie’s deep cuts, for instance, force teachers to contribute a much higher percentage of their salaries to their pensions, while doubling or even tripling their health care contributions and eliminating cost-of-living adjustments. Republican governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and John Kasich of Ohio took their austerity measures a step further by seeking to abolish collective bargaining rights for teachers. Such legislation is possible because the image of teachers has never been so degraded, especially of unionized teachers, whom Christie routinely refers to as “thugs” and “bullies.” Continue reading

NEA President Sends Mixed Messages about Teacher Preparation – Living in Dialogue – Education Week Teacher

23 Dec

I just don’t get it. A few short weeks ago, the National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel released a “Three Point Plan for True Education Reform.” The first point of this plan is “raising the bar for entry” into the teaching profession.

THE FIRST STEP in transforming our profession is to strengthen and maintain strong and uniform standards for preparation and admission. More than 1.6 million new teachers are expected to enter the profession within the next decade, and we must ensure that they are effective practitioners before they are assigned as teachers of record.

The plan suggests two concrete things:

Every teacher candidate should have one full year of residency under the supervision of a Master Teacher before earning a full license.


Every teacher candidate should pass a rigorous classroom-based performance assessment at the end of his or her candidacy.

These would be solid achievements.

This week, Dennis Van Roekel undermined his own message by choosing to co-author with Teach For America CEO Wendy Kopp this “Column: 3 ways to improve the USA’s teachers.”

Here, the first item on the list has changed. No longer is there discussion of “raising the bar for entry,” or a year of full residency. Here, the first item is “Use data to improve teacher preparation.” In other words, judge teacher preparation programs by the test scores of the teachers they produce. Do we really want this? One more piece of leverage aimed at pressuring schools of education to tow the line and encourage their students to teach to the test? Teach For America figured this out years ago, and a visit to a TFA classroom will reveal the posters on the wall tracking student test scores, and exhortations to reach the big goal of 80% mastery.

The column states, “Unfortunately, not all teachers are getting the high-quality preparation they need to excel with students in the classroom.”

Unfortunately indeed.

Does Mr. Van Roekel believe that Teach For America’s five or six week long training is adequate preparation? Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: