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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Mon Mar 07th 2011, 11:03 PM
So Tennessee is getting a full dose of education "reform". Rhee founded TNTP The New Teacher Project. It has contracted with Memphis schools for several years to provide new teachers.

Add Bill Gates to the mix, and you have got a full-fledged case of "reform" going on. Indeed Memphis pays TNTP 2.5 million a year of Bill Gates' money to find teachers for them.

Why don't they just save money and hire locally? Good question. No good answer. As in the case of the Miami High School which President Obama visited last week, they are using the "reform" process of getting rid of experienced teachers and bringing in new teachers which they had to pay to recruit. In fact 20 of the fired teachers at Miami Central were replaced by TFA teachers. They had to get rid of other teachers to make room for them.

More about Tennessee and Huffman and Rhee, his ex-wife.

Teach for America VP named Tenn. ed. commissioner

Picture from TFA website


Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday took another step on his agenda of reshaping Tennessee public schools by naming an education commissioner drawn from the ranks of the teaching reform movement.

The Republican governor's selection is Kevin Huffman, vice president of public affairs at Teach for America, a program that has tried to improve classroom teaching by placing recent college graduates in low-income schools and is often criticized by teacher unions.

Huffman, 40, will manage the state's $500 million in federal Race to the Top education grants and its ongoing relationship with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged $90 million to the troubled Memphis school system.

..."The 20-year-old Teach for America has been criticized by the National Education Association and other teachers' unions for putting inexperienced 20-somethings with just five weeks of training in classrooms and for letting top graduates experiment in public education for a couple of years before moving on to something else.

And his ex-wife, Michelle Rhee, is taking time out from wreaking havoc on Florida schools and heading to Memphis. In Florida she recommended that 8% of the state's teachers be fired.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Ex-D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee joins anti-union offensive in Tennessee

Michelle Rhee, the controversial former superintendent of Washington public schools, is out to raise $1 billion to counteract the voice of teacher unions.

She spoke Thursday at the Economic Club of Memphis as CEO of Students First, the nonprofit organization she founded after stepping down as D.C. school chief last fall.

"We wanted a nationally recognized speaker to discuss education topics since our community has such a critical vote next week," said club spokeswoman Beth Flanagan.

Rhee, the former wife of new Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman, believes in collective bargaining to a point, has little use for seniority or tenure and is out to make sure a group with heft equal to that of "the union bosses" is shaping policy that affects children's lives.

And Bill Gates is giving them money, lots of it.

Memphis, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, pays TNTP $2.5 million a year to find, hire and manage teacher placement in the district.

"The organization has incredibly high-quality folks who understand teacher quality," Rhee said.

My best to the teachers of Tennessee and especially Memphis. Memphis joins Tampa and New York as part of the Bill Gates Earbud Project for TFA teachers.

I believe teachers in both states are going to have to be just like WI teachers if they want to survive as public employees.

Here are the very astute words of Jennie Smith about Obama's standing with Jeb Bush on education policy.

This does not encourage anyone in his or her right mind to want to work with disadvantaged students. Even with some extra bonus thrown in as an "incentive," knowing that one has a high probability of losing his job based on test scores would discourage anyone with the aspiration of a career in teaching from working in a high-poverty school.

But let's be clear. That's exactly what Jeb Bush and his cronies want.

They don't want career teachers. They want teachers in the Teach for America model, who will come in for a couple of years (until they are burned out by the pressure and lack of respect and compensation, or get fired for test scores) and leave quietly out the back door. Why? Obviously it's not better for students--all research emphasizes that experience does matter (duh) and that it is only after 3, and really more like 5, years that a teacher truly masters the art/science of teaching. But remember--they don't care what is best for children, at least for children in public schools. They want this because it is cheap. Beginning teachers who never become experienced teachers cost less in salary, benefits and pension. On an annual contract, they will be too fearful for their jobs to speak up against what is being done to them and their students and schools. They will be too fearful to speak up and demand decent salary and benefits. There will be no more teachers' union helping Democrats get elected and fighting for funding for schools. There will be no one fighting them as they funnel more and more money from public schools into the private sector: the standardized testing industry, for-profit charter schools, private and religious schools benefiting from state vouchers, not to mention the corporate tax cuts that can be paid for with the cut in education spending.

Continue reading on President Obama shares the stage with Jeb Bush in Miami - Miami Dade County Education Policy |

What is happening in Tennessee is happening in Florida and other states. The education "reformers" are not about what's best for kids and teachers or parents. They want what's best for them and for their business cronies.

There is no one standing with those of us who are/were teachers. Neither party is for us. We have been negotiated away.

I find that that is one of the most tragic things that ever happened in this country. Public education has been traded away in the name of "bipartisanship."

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