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Posted by madfloridian in General Discussion
Wed Mar 16th 2011, 12:44 PM
Last year TFA was set to receive 50 million from the federal government, though I hear the new Republican majority may be taking part of those funds away. I can not find reference to these problems being corrected since the audit...only the words of Kevin Huffman saying they would be fixed.

As I read this article I realized that accountability only matters if you are a teacher or another public sector worker. You bet you'd better be right on the ball in that case.

There is a video of Katie Couric and reporter Sharyl Attkisson at the link as well as an article.

Organization That Trains Teachers Gets A Failing Grade For Its Accounting Skills

Here's the link to the 2008 video with Attkisson and Couric.

Teach for America vice president Kevin Huffman chalks the unsatisfactory audit to poor record keeping. (CBS) Huffman just became Tennessee's education secretary

The Department of Education Inspector General examined a small slice of the group's federal funding. What they found was shocking. In all, Teach for America failed to account for half the money audited. Time and time again the audit said there were no basic records or receipts: None for a $123,878 training expense; none for a $342,428 bill.

Teach for America vice president Kevin Huffman chalks it up to poor record keeping.

"We're confident, we're confident that we spent the money on the training of new teachers," Huffman said.

Attkisson said: "There was no agenda; no description of meals; no list of attendees. That sounds like a little more than sloppy bookkeeping."

"I think it's a question of what records should have been kept," Huffman said.

Here is more from Attkisson's blog:

Teach For America Learns A Lesson

The I.G. examined just a small slice of Teach for America's federal grant expenses and found the group was unable to properly account for half the money audited. Citizens Against Government Waste spokesman Leslie Paige says that stat is "astonishing."

"The documentation they were asked to provide was not difficult," Paige told CBS News. "We're talking about basic receipts; the same sort of things you provide in business when you go on a trip, or have a conference and keep a list of who attended. This is not heavy lifting when it comes to documentation."

Much of the money in question was spent on teacher training, according to Teach for America. But the I.G. said time and time again that Teach for America was unable to provide sign-in sheets, complete original documents showing rosters, proof that anyone actually attended some of the courses and received certification. In one case, the I.G. said Teach for America was unable to prove that the course even took place at all.

The idea that complete look back on spending of some government grants wasn't possible because of the poor record-keeping has implications for how the group has probably spent lots of other private and public funds, according to Paige. And it makes it impossible to gauge whether the tax dollars were spent on what they were supposed to be, and whether they accomplished designed goals. "It may be a great program," says Paige, "but how would we know that because they don't provide us any opportunity to gauge what they've done was legitimate. How do you prove that what you are spending the money on is working? And that what you are trying to achieve is actually being achieved if you can't prove how you spent the money."

Lordy, I had to have all my lesson plans for day, week, and month right on time with proper documentation for sources. I had to have all my courses for recertification up to date and documented. There were no excuses allowed for anything. It was part of my job.

Here is more about Kevin Huffman and his new powerful role in Tennessee.

Teach for America VP named Tenn. ed. commissioner

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.

This blog about alternative education has some questions about TFA. Just a couple of quotes from The Blue Avocado.

Teach for America: Icon with Feet of Clay?

$100 million in federal grants and $100 million in foundation grants

Maybe at its heart, critics simply don't like TFA's ability to glom more and more from foundations and particularly government, while school districts trim full-time employment and other education-focused nonprofits can only look at TFA's fundraising with envy. Based on an analysis of data from, TFA secured over $80 million in grants between FY2001 and FY2008, including $44 million through the Department of Education, $32 million from the Corporation for National and Community Service, and $4 million from NASA.

The blog points out that they receive large amounts from both conservative and liberal foundations.

TFA's political flexibility has also proven remarkably successful with foundations as well, particularly important since the federal Social Innovation Fund will be defined and administered by foundation regrant-makers (oh come on, we all know that! and if not, see Blue Avocado's recent article). Grants from the politically conservative Walton Family Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the F.M. Kirby Foundation sit alongside philanthropic support from the more left-leaning Atlantic Philanthropies, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Bette Midler and Barbra Streisand. The Foundation Center's online database suggests that TFA national and its local affiliates received $43.875 million in foundation grants in 2007 and, with totals still far from complete for 2008, $33.17 million in that year.

The next section of the blog is titled "A brilliant cure or sending the least prepared to the most needy?"

And this blog made one of the most important points about the morphing of TFA into something that harms public education.

I was glad to see they pointed out that the original goal had changed until now they were claiming to be better than experienced teachers....and may I add they are taking their jobs away from them.

One area of criticism centers on the premise that TFA teachers are better than credentialed, experienced teachers. (TFA teachers receive five weeks of training prior to classroom placement.) While an early goal of TFA was to meet teacher shortages, today credentialed, experienced teachers are being laid off in countless communities and newly credentialed teachers cannot find jobs, completing the TFA trajectory from one that fills gaps to one that claims to be better than the professionals currently on the job.

Goal went from "one that fills gaps to one that claims to be better than the professionals currently on the job."

Well said.

And the group managed to get Arne Duncan as DOE secretary instead of Linda Darling Hammond who worked with Obama during the campaign.

And TFA goes beyond debating the principles to taking political action against those it sees as detractors. For instance, when Linda Darling-Hammond was selected for the Obama education transition team, TFA was fearful that she would end up with a high post. Through a mass e-mail in late 2008, TFA alerted its network to the possibility of TFA critics emerging in the Obama White House, directing them to Leadership for Educational Equity, a 501(c)(4) TFA affiliate. Created in 2008 ostensibly "to support alumni in the later stages of readiness for political activity" the Leadership for Educational Equity has become a fierce political defender of all things TFA.

This political arm of TFA struck out at Darling-Hammond with an article on its website titled "Education Secretary Fight Could Affect Teach for America's Mission." As one TFA blogger and board member of an "education reform" PAC commented about Darling-Hammond: "She's influential, clever and (while she does her best to hide it) an enemy of genuine reform." The result was that Arne Duncan, generally supportive of TFA, got the top job at Education over Darling-Hammond.

I am finally figuring out the terms they use little by little. They are getting teachers into the jobs that were cleared by firing and laying off experienced teachers. They call it "Alternative Certification."

Yep, I had heard that term. But before I retired it was used to refer to highly specialized areas of teaching when there was not a certified teacher available. Professionals in the area of expertise could teach and gain certification.

It's amazing how what could have been a good idea simply grew beyond control when financial profit and power came into the picture.

This is the Teach-Now website which pushes this "alternative certification", and you need to take a look at the advisory board.

The Advisory Board is composed of the following 10 members who meet once a year:

1. Dale Ballou, Economist, Vanderbilt University School of Education, who is working with Dr. William Sanders on the relationship between teachers' credentials and student performance
2. Vickie Bernstein, Director of Alternative Certification, New York City Board of Education
3. John R. Gantz, Chief, Troops to Teachers(the military wing)
4. Wendy Kopp, President, Teach for America

5. William Moloney, Colorado Commissioner of Education
6. Michael McKibben, California Commission on Teacher Credentialing and President of the National Association for Alternative Certification
7. Michelle Rhee, CEO and President, New Teacher Project

8. Joan Baratz Snowden, Director of the Educational Issues Department of the American Federation of Teachers
9. Kate Walsh, Executive Director, National Council on Teacher Quality

And not surprisingly there is an eerie silence coming out of TN about ending "collective bargaining."

" Asked for his view on the Republican bill to strip public school teachers of collective bargaining rights, Huffman declined to answer.

That's because his new boss intends to do all the talking on the issue, right? Woods again:

As he has done for the past two weeks, since the issue pushed the front of the legislature’s education agenda, the governor also pointedly refused to give his opinion.

“There are still some twists and turns in terms of how all that develops,” Haslam said of the collective bargaining bill. “We’re in the middle of those discussions. At the appropriate time, I think we’ll weigh in. We’re not going to throw 100 things against the wall and see what sticks. We’re going to pick a few things that we think are really important.”

Collective silence of Huffman and Haslam

And TN, did I forget to tell you that Michelle Rhee is also in TN aiding and abetting.

TFA founder Wendy Kopp is in Wisconsin telling them they need TFA since they are in crisis.

I did a search to see if another audit had been done since 2008, but I could not find a thing.

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