a buckeye in texas

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 07 2009

Pre-Institute Work

So there are only several weeks left in the school year and before I head to the Houston Institute. There is a ton of stuff I need to get done before then. This includes wrapping up classes, clearing out my apartment, making moving arrangements, and plenty of pre-institute work.

My accounting teachers gave me a bit of a challenge with taking my finals early but we finally came to a compromise. I’ll miss induction to take the finals before finals week so I’ll still be able to catch all of institute. Aaargh!! I love quarters in any other occasion. Hopefully I’ll have time to bond with other Houston corps members during institute too.

There is a good amount of reading and exercises to do to prepare for institute. It’s interesting so it’s not bad at all…just a little difficult to try to fit it into my already overwhelming schedule. I’ve decided to do an exercise a week. That shouldn’t be too difficult and I’ll be done in time.

Other than that I heard about an opportunity to get a M.Ed. at the University of Houston during the 2 year committment. That sounds so great! I definitely got to do that. My current goals are to teach for at least 4 years, obtain my masters and principal certification during that time, then I want to work on a doctorate in education, if possible I could maybe be an assistant principal during that time if the doctorate program can be part time. Some programs like the one offered at Columbia has a dual doctorate and MBA program..that would be absolutely perfect. After I complete that I want to continue to work in administration either as a principal and work my way up to be a superintendent or become a founding school leader for a KIPP school. When the time arises I’d like to open my own charter school though and do things how I see fit. And after alllll of that maybe become U.S. Secretary of Education. :) Sound good? I got pretty big goals.. but it all starts with Teach For America.

Well anyway that’s pretty much all that’s going on. Oh yeah! Today I had training to be a student facilitator for this program we have at Ohio State call Blueprint College. The focus of the program is helping potentially first generation college students and their families become familiar with what it takes to go to college while their children are still at a young age (elementary age.) I’ll be working with 1st graders facilitating activities that promote college and help create interest in going. It’s an awesome program! I’m so excited to work on this.

I’ll update you if anything else happens related to TFA. Otherwise it will probably be like a month before I have more to write about the process. Ciao!

2 Responses

  1. waxwing

    Good luck from another Buckeye! I will be teaching in Indy, though.

  2. JesseAlred

    I am seeking a dialogue with current and past Teach for America teachers. I have taught for 14 years in inner-city Houston. When I started teaching, I saw myself as a reformer, as some of Teach for America teachers do. I had some pretty serious success with AP students, and some serious frustration with our regular students. So my experience, to be honest, has been mixed. I want a dialogue about the political behaviors of the Teach For America elite.

    In our city, a former TFA official, now a school board member, has led the charge for beginning to fire teachers based on student test scores. She also opposed allowing teachers to select a single major union representative. After a little research I found this appeared to be a pattern with TFA”s leaders. There seems to be a close relationship between conservatives and the TFA elite.

    This goes back to its origins, when Union Carbide sponsored Wendy Kopp’s original efforts to create Teach For America. A few years before, Union Carbide’s negligence had caused the worst industrial accident in history, in Bhopal, India. The number of casualties was as large as 100,000, and Union Carbide did everything it could to avoid and minimize responsibility after the event.

    A few years later, when TFA faced severe financial difficulties, Ms. Kopp wrote in her book she nearly went to work for the Edison Project, and was all but saved by their financial assistance. The Edison Project, founded by a Tennessee entrepreneur, was an effort to replace public schools with corporate schools. Two brilliant TFA alumni, the founders of KIPP Academy, then joined the Bush’s at the Republican National Convention in 2000. This was vital to Bush, since as Governor he did not really have any genuine education achievements, and he was trying to prove he was a different kind of Republican. I then read the popular magazine articles about Michelle Rhee’s firing of teachers and closing of schools, and then her admission she had gone to far too fast.

    I think you do great work. Ironically, my former mentor works for Ms. Rhee. He saved me in my first year as a teacher in Houston. He was a terrific teacher. I respect and honor your work, as I do my own.

    But your leaders seem to attack the public sector and blame teachers for student failure in order to curry favor with rich conservatives. To be up front, I grew up in a low-income housing project in Mississippi and eventually became a good student, and I am a social democrat. I believe school reform must include better schools, but also health care, stable employment, long-term unemployment benefits, a revitalized union movement, a higher minimum wage, freedom for alternative lifestyles, and affirmative action. Stable families are more able to be ambitious for their kids than economically or emotionally unstable families. Better schools are part of this, but only one part of it. Your leaders seem to have gotten in bed with people who believe the market solves all issues—and that makes the money flow faster. Yet your hard work gives them credibility with the media.

    Ms. Kopp claims to be in the tradition of the civil rights movement, but Martin Luther King would take principled positions—against the Vietnam War and for the Poor Peoples March—even if they alienated powerful people. I would like a dialogue about what I have written here. My e-mail is JesseAlred@yahoo.com.

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