Wendy Kopp to Save Seattle
When most of us think about the city of Seattle, we think about rain, granola, recycling, hippies, Nirvana, and maybe Mt Rainier. Not a whole lot of people think of failing inner-city schools. But, believe it or not, Seattle struggles with social ills the same way any other major metropolitan area across the country does. And luckily, they have a Broad-trained schools superintendent to at least help deal with the schools part of that equation, Maria Goodloe-Johnson
You see, Seattle's public school teachers have, of late, been subjecting Ms Goodloe-Johnson to no-confidence votes, which, in this circumstance, might more appropriately be called "you-clearly-don't-care-about-democracy-and-know-nothing-about-fixing-education-so-please-go-away" votes. I suspect these are quite the thorn in the superintendent's side. Luckily, Wendy Kopp has a solution.
You see, Wendy, as a senior at Princeton, decided she'd discovered the perfect way to help alleviate the ills of public education: recruit ivy-league graduates with minimal cultural competency, a few Kozol books under their belts, no experience in the classroom, egos the size of Jupiter, and naivety beyond measure to work with the most challenged students around the country. It was likely Kopp's complete lack of teaching experience and equally large ego that led her to believe that such a gimmick would work. She marketed it well, had some solid connections, worked extraordinarily hard, and voila: enter one of the saviors of every corporate-reform type currently dazzling the gullible American media: Teach for America.
I first heard about TFA coming to Seattle (and apparently Federal Way) by way of text message from a former colleague yesterday morning. I sarcastically replied, "Finally, you guys will get some decent teachers out there." This was later confirmed by the Seattle Education 2010 blog (which is fantastic if you can keep up with super-long blog posts).
As Seattle Education 2010 points out, the Seattle area has no current shortage of teachers. SPS has been laying off teachers for the past two years. When I left the area in 2009, the guy who took my place was one of only a few in his graduating class (and I'm pretty sure he went to Washington State University, which probably graduates more than a few teachers in his area) to find a job; and to get it, he had to accept a position that had been diminished to what essentially amounted to part-time work. The conversations we often had in the lunchroom while I was working there revolved around capable colleagues who couldn't find a job.
So it looks like Teach for America will be infiltrating Seattle, but they'll only be allowed to teach in really tough schools - you know, the kinds that need the most experienced teachers. Ahhhhhh (the kind of sound you make when you enter a hot bath) - that makes sense....now I feel better.
Having highly-trained, effective teachers in our neediest classrooms was never one of the Duncan/Klein/Rhee/Goodloe-Johnson talking points anyway.......wait a second....