December 12, 2015; Washington Post
The New York Campaign for Achievement Now (NYCAN), a network that supports public charter schools and school choice and wants to weaken teacher tenure laws, has started a campaign it calls “Corps Knowledge” to counter criticism of Teach for America.
“Some of the best people I’ve ever known have worked for TFA,” says Derrell Bradford, NYCAN’s executive director. “Great, caring, smart—and it’s tough to see your friends get dragged through the mud.” Bradford says he has $500,000 in hand and is planning to raise another million to protect those friends of his. The effort already has an external public relations firm to employ social media and plant opinion pieces. (So far, Corps Knowledge has 137 likes on Facebook.)
TFA is not formally involved with the campaign, although there are a number of ties. This article points out that TFA notables Matt Kramer and Kevin Huffman sit on the board of 50CAN, NYCAN’s parent organization, and Corps Knowledge, respectively. And if you want a small sense of the degree of overlap, just search Google for “TFA” and “50CAN” together.
“We certainly talk, but this is separate from TFA,” Bradford contends. “TFA is letting us take her sister out, and we said we would bring her back on time.” (We are not completely sure what that means.)
As readers may remember, TFA has been experiencing a decline in applications, which it has been attributing to a better economy that affords graduating students more options. But, as Martin Levine pointed out earlier this year, it may become harder and harder to recruit for a profession that you may play a part in undermining, especially when so many are questioning the intended and unintended outcomes of TFA.—Ruth McCambridge