Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why the WI State Legislature Should Not Give $1,000,000 to TFA

Hidden in the cracks of the Wisconsin state budget that the Republican-dominated legislature is forcing on the people of Wisconsin, is a provision to give one million dollars to Teach for America.

Teach for America needs another million dollars about as much as the Koch brothers need another bought-and-paid-for Wisconsin legislator.

Wisconsin taxpayers should not have to subsidize a national organization with net assets of over $350 million. The organization is essentially a job-training/ resume-building program for privileged college students mostly from out of state – most of whom are not likely to make a long-term commitment to Wisconsin public schools.

Why, when Wisconsin's unemployment remains so high, is the state paying for TFA recruits, the majority of whom are not from the state?

Why should Wisconsin taxpayers give a million dollars to TFA when TFA’s most recent public financial statement show that in FY 2011 it had revenues of over $270.5 million and total expenses of $218.7 million – a net gain of $51.8 million?

As we attempt to recover from the largest budget cuts to Wisconsin public schools since the Great Depression, I am sure school boards across the state could think of a better use of $1 million dollars then subsidizing a national organization with more than ample corporate backers.

School districts actually pay TFA for their services – two thousand-dollar finder fees for each TFA recruit are common – and all the salaries and benefits of TFA members who teach in the public schools are paid by the local school district.

Why does TFA need additional money? Wasn't the $50 million grant from the US Office of Education enough? Perhaps it’s to pay their many administrative staff six-figure salaries.

An additional pro-TFA provision in the Wisconsin State Budget (one of the many non-fiscal provisions) privileges TFA members as they race to leave teaching and move into administration. The provision allows TFA members to count their two years of TFA teaching as part of the three-year teaching requirement needed to be a school administrator, ignoring the long-standing practice of not counting internships and student teaching as part of the required three years. Moving to the TFA model is a dis-service to students and an insult to school administrators who have graduated from a college of education, have gone through student teaching, and then have moved on to significant teaching and learning in the classroom.

If the Governor Walker has the interests of the taxpayers and children of Wisconsin at heart, he would veto this portion of the budget, as did Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton in May.