I'm about a week behind on this, mostly because I don't usually pay any attention to conservative rantist Michelle Malkin. Yes, she often rants against Common Core and corporate commandeering of public education, but when I first started picking apart the odd alliances, congruence, and alignments of the education debates, one thing became clear to me-- in these debates, as in other aspects of life, the enemy of my enemy might well be my enemy. Or at the very least, a trellis asshat.
Malkin made her recent stink in the New York Post, where she accused Teach for America of harboring dangerous radicals.
But those concerns pale in comparison to the divisive, grievance-mongering activities of the group’s increasingly radicalized officials and alumni.
TFA’s most infamous public faces don’t even pretend to be interested in students’ academic achievement. It’s all about race, tweets and marching on the streets.
She goes on to give accounts of recent civil rights activism by TFA members and alums, including popularizing and promoting the #BlackLivesMatter movement. She links this to TFA's recent initiative to include more men and women of color. She stops just short of saying that TFA has been taken over by a bunch of uppity black folks who don't know how to stay in place-- but only just short of that.
Look-- nobody is ever going to mistake me for a TFA supporter. I've explained numerous times why the organization, which has morphed into one more corporate-stoogery corporation, is bad for education. They started out with one simple foolishly naïve idea (any Better Person from the Right School can become a teacher in five weeks) and built on that foundation a structure of even worse ideas (our Better People can replace the inferior professionals and help charters cut the legs out from under public education). And they have long carried the smell of "white man's burden" colonial-style racism in their operation.
But here's two things about TFA. One is that their initiative to recruit men (and women) of color for the classroom is a response to a real problem. It might be a cynical marketing response, but g's still a response to a real problem. The other is that while I have no love or respect for the organization itself, I have always recognized that many folks join TFA with pure hearts and good intentions (yes, many are just looking at their resume, but not all). That to me one of the great evils of TFA-- they take young people with an interest in teaching, who might have been good teachers, and give them the worst possible introduction to the classroom.
And it's really those TFA recruits that Malkin is going after. She connects the corporate dots, but she's using that to work her way to the big reveal-- our tax dollars are supporting Black People Who Won't Sit Down and Shut Up.
TFA deserves a lot of things, not the least of which is to go away forever, but they don't deserve to be the excuse for a racist rant, and they certainly haven't earned the right to be painted as a training ground for Naughty Black Activists.
I know there are folks whose attitude is that we should attack our enemies whenever the chance presents itself and that we should embrace anybody who wants to attack the people we want to attack. But what Malkin and the people who have followed her lead have constructed is a racist lie, and that's just not okay.
This is just one more reason to define oneself by what you stand for, not what you're against. There are plenty of folks out there who are against Common Core and high stakes testing who are also against public education (particularly when it spends tax dollars on Those People). I am not on the same side as those folks.
TFA deserves to be attacked for many reasons, but it's just wrong to support an attack on them that is based on inflammatory foolishness and which feeds the fires of racism.