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Mercedes Schneider: When TFA Cares About Experience

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Author: dianeravitch

Mercedes Schneider did some digging into Teach for America’s budget and promotional activities on Capitol Hill and discovered some fascinating facts.

She writes:

“According to its 2013 990, TFA’s end-of-year total assets were $494 million, with $73.5 million of its 2013 revenue designated as “government grants” and $31.6 million of its 2013 revenue earmarked as “service fees revenue….

“For eight hours of work per week, TFA chair Wendy Kopp drew a 2013 salary of $176,657. Co-CEOs Matt Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard drew salaries of $381,946 for 42 hrs/wk (Kramer) and $342,134 for 40 hrs/wk (Beard).

“TFA began as a Peace Corps-like temp agency that sends college graduates outside of the field of teaching into classrooms for usually two years. However, by 2001, TFA had established a second goal: To move former TFA corps members into positions of influence in education, business, and politics in order to solidify and expand TFA’s influence over public education.”

Schneider says that TFA charges districts up to $9,000 to place one of their inexperienced temps. “TFA really needs those temp fees. After all, it takes almost a million dollars a year to just pay Kopp, Kramer and Beard for their combined 90 hrs/wk ($900,737), and they are not the only TFA board members pulling a salary. Eight others work 40 or 41 hrs/wk and have salaries ranging from $190,638 to $282,759….

“But TFA has other needs, as well. Consider, for instance, the need for TFA to establish its presence on Capitol Hill. Now, according to its 2013 tax form, TFA only spent $595,870 on lobbying that year. However, if TFA pays interns to gain experience on Capitol Hill, it isn’t really lobbying– it’s just putting talented TFA alumni to work:

One of Schneider’s most fascinating discoveries is that TFA is seeking a new Government Affairs director, I.e., lobbyist.

And here is the kicker: a requirement for the job of lobbyist is SEVEN YEARS EXPERIENCE.

Isn’t that interesting?

TFA tells the world that a “great” teacher doesn’t need experience. It tells college seniors that they can change the “trajectory” of children’s lives if they commit to teach in the neediest schools, starting the September after graduating college.

Just five weeks of “institute,” no real teaching experience necessary.

Yet when TFA hires lobbyists, it requires seven years experience!

Is the job of lobbyist so much harder and so much more valuable than that of teacher?

Mitchell Robinson read Schneider’s post and raised some interesting questions:

*What does it say about your organization’s values when you require 7 years of experience for a lobbying position and require zero years of experience for teachers in charge of classrooms full of young children?

*What does it mean when your organization charges resource-strapped school districts up to $9000 per year in “service fees” for each recruit placed, while private and public universities charge nothing when their graduates get hired for the same positions?

*What does it say about your “non-profit” organization’s values when your top 3 executives are paid $381,946 (Co-CEO Matt Kramer) $342,134 (Elisa Villanueva Beard), and $176,657 (Wendy Kopp), while you attack public schools, teachers and unions for their “greed”?

Yes, curious contradictions.

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