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EdMonth Storified: This Is What Happens When You Debate @TeachForAmerica

Deliberation and debate is the way you stir the soul of our democracy. Jesse Jackson

Back in the Fall of 2014 Hannah Nguyen approach me about joining a USC Ed Month panel for a debate about Teach For America. (What is Teach For America? See all posts on the organization here.) USC EdMonth is a “month-long program devoted to raising awareness about the state of education in our country. This student-led campaign aims to encourage exploration of education as a critical issue and empower students to take action.” I thought this was a fantastic idea. I have had numerous conversations with TFA teachers, alums, even their CEO over the past few years. The invite was straightforward enough. I would fly down to LA. The debate would last a couple of hours. There would be two TFA rah rah folks, and then myself and one other person with critiques.

2015-01-15 13.23.02

Photo from the flight to LA

I didn’t prepare any particular talking points for the debate. I did re-read the two policy briefs that I co-authored with Dr. Su Jin Jez for the National Education Policy Center (See Review of the Evidence, 2010 and Return to the Evidence, 2014). A few weeks later Hannah emailed me to tell me that TFA had selected a second year core member and the USC recruiter for the debate. I thought that was odd at the time. Turns out that TFA’s strategy was in some part classic Wellington at Waterloo evade, choose your battleground, and hide troop strength to avoid giving away strength and position. It turned out that for two hours the debate largely did not actually occur between myself and the two panelist, but instead with the approximately 20 other TFA employees, alums, and corp members. Okay, maybe not Wellington but instead Bush’s shock and awe strategy.

The debate went on for two hours. Hannah recorded the entire debate, but I don’t believe it ever went up on Youtube which is a shame.

I have Storified the debate, which allows me to include Tweets, text, Facebook photos etc. What is Storify? It “helps making sense of what people post on social media.” Users curate voices and turn them into stories.

Click the link below to read about the USC debate with Teach For America. It’s worth the click and is a quick read. Enjoy.

Debating Teach For America in Los Angeles

For all of Cloaking Inequity’s posts on Teach For America click here.

If you have a moment, check out Is @TeachForAmerica Cloaking Inequity?: Discussing the Headwind

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Please blame Teach For America for any typos.

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About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (670 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

4 Comments on EdMonth Storified: This Is What Happens When You Debate @TeachForAmerica

  1. Just for the record, my daughter is a junior at Oberlin College in Ohio, and she says TFA recruiters now get an openly hostile reception there. And Oberlin tends to reflect what’s going on at similar liberal-arts college.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Definitely a classic move by TFA.

    > ———- Forwarded message ———-
    > From: Schmidt, Adam <Adam.Schmidt@teachforamerica.org >
    > Date: Wed, Dec 4, 2013 at 3:06 PM
    > Subject: Requesting your attendance at critical TFA lecture on Mon, Dec. 9
    > To:
    > Good afternoon Madison-area alumni,
    >
    >
    >
    > I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday! I’m personally thankful for all of the ways you have contributed to our recruitment and engagement efforts in Madison over the past few years. We’re currently experiencing another year of strong growth in applicants and applicants from diverse backgrounds at UW-Madison. Thank you!
    >
    >
    >
    > I’m writing to let you know about a public lecture next week sponsored by the UW-Madison College of Education which we anticipate will be highly critical of Teach For America’s work across the country, as well as some of our philanthropic and school partners. The presenters are UW-Madison alumni and former Teach For America corps members who helped to organize the highly-publicized resisting TFA conference in Chicago over the summer.
    >
    >
    >
    > While I deeply respect the presenters’ right to hold their position, I’m worried a one-sided and explicitly biased presentation could impact our ability to recruit strong candidates from UW-Madison this school year and beyond.
    >
    >
    >
    > That said, I’d appreciate if could attend the 1-hour presentation on Monday, December 9 from 4-5 PM in the Wisconsin Idea room of the Education Building on Bascom Hill. My purpose isn’t to disrupt the lecture in any way, but to provide the campus community with positive examples of our local alumni (you) – particularly our new and prospective recruits.
    >
    >
    >
    > We’ll also be hosting a debrief conversation at the Memorial Union Rathskeller with new corps members after the lecture, to listen to their reactions and answer any questions they have.
    >
    >
    >
    > The event website and description are below. Please let me know if you have any questions – and please let me know if you can join us on Monday afternoon at 4pm.
    >
    >
    >
    > Thanks for considering,
    >
    > Adam
    >
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > Adam Schmidt
    >
    > Regional Director, Recruitment
    >
    > 608-886-0225(tel:608-886-0225)

    Like

  3. Sounds so familiar. Whenever I’ve debated with TFA, they did everything in their power to stack the deck in their favor. For one panel, they first refused to confirm a time for the event for weeks, and eventually chose a time on a Monday morning (for a debate on a college campus! Clearly, not ideal for getting the most people to come out. Especially when they delayed so long, there wasn’t much time to advertise the event.) Next, they refused to participate unless they had MORE people speaking pro-TFA than against (They originally wanted a 4 to 2 ratio, we finally settled for a 3:2 in favor of TFA, although one of their members had to cancel last minute making the panel equal.) They also required that the main TFA spokesperson got the final remarks (all of this pre-negotiated.) Also, when I spoke against them on Huffpost Live, they also stacked the deck With 3 pro-TFA, one in the middle, and then me. (The normal Huffpost Live format is 2 pro, 2 against.)

    This organization will go to any lengths to distort the truth getting out.

    Like

4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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