MEDIA WATCH: All you need to 'close the achievement gap' are a bunch of upper middle class white boys and girls, a few weeks of TFA 'Boot Camp', and lots of belief... Teach for America gets plugs from Fox news, Jean-Claude Brizard and CPS, while displaced veteran teachers are dumped

The promotion of shake-and-bake amateur teachers in Chicago continued in August 2011, as Fox News's Robin Robinson teamed up with Teach for America to promote the latest group of amateur teachers who have been trained the TFA's summer program. According to a source familiar with the event, every Chicago principal received the TFA promotional email below. As Substance readers know, CPS officials, led by Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard, barred the Chicago Teachers Union from participating in the July career event held at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (above, second from left) and Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean Claude Brizard (above, second from right, during the August 2, 2011 media event at St. Sabina's) continue to support the ousting of veteran teachers and their replacement with unqualified novices and massive doses of Teacher for American propaganda. Since his election campaign, Emanuel has drawn his "facts" and talking points from sources such as the privatization propaganda movie "Waiting for Superman" and from the unverified claims of Teacher for American and its corporate backers. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.While CPS continues letting veteran teachers go in large numbers (the total is now at least 2,300 since June 1, 2011, CPS simultaneously promotes the "shake-and-bake" Teach for America approach to teacher training and recruitment. Despite the growing critique of TFA across the USA, Fox News and others present the TFA program based on its public relations claims, and never on the reality in the classroom that TFA actually brings to urban schools like Chicago's.

A TFA notice went out to Chicago public school principals promoting the propaganda produced as news by Fox News Chicago and Robin Robinson. It was originally aired as "Teach for America Seminars Train Future Teachers, Aim to Close Achievement Gap" on Thursday, 28 Jul 2011, 10:01 PM CDT on Fox Chicago.

From: Crane, Jana [] Sent: Wednesday, August 03, 2011 5:18 PM

To: Crane, Jana

Subject: Robin Robinson of Fox News Visits Teacher Bootcamp

Good evening Chicago School Leaders,

I hope things are going smoothly as you prepare for another school year. I’m writing to share a short video and article, documenting Fox News Anchor Robin Robinson’s visit of the Teach For America institute at IIT this summer. [See the video here:]

In June, 400 college graduates descended on Chicago, prepared to end the summer as bona fide teachers. They received professional development, taught full summer school courses and were reminded each day about the important work of ending what we call, the achievement gap.

After reading this piece on our newest members of the education community, I’m reminded of the hard work you — many of you lifelong educators — do each day to ensure that minority and low income children receive an education that will expand their life options. As a CPS mom, teacher and former student, thank you for your leadership.

If you find yourself looking for energetic, and amazingly talented teachers now or after the 20th day of school, I hope you will reach out to request an interview with our teachers. There are 30 such teachers who, in this very tough budgetary climate, are still looking for an opportunity to bring innovative, engaging and rigorous instruction to your students.

Don’t hesitate to call me if you’d like to be connected.

Wishing you a fantastic start of the school year!

All my best, Jana Crane

Jana Crane, Director of Placement, Teach For America- Chicago, Office: 312-254-1000 x 19212


One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.


Teach for America Seminars Train Future Teachers, Aim to Close Achievement Gap

Updated: Thursday, 28 Jul 2011, 10:01 PM CDT

Published : Thursday, 28 Jul 2011, 5:41 PM CDT

By Robin Robinson, FOX Chicago News

Chicago - Great teachers make all the difference. But what makes a great teacher?

For 20 years, Teach for America has been trying to send the best talent to students most in need.

Here in Chicago, 400 smart people just finished a boot camp of sorts, with one goal in mind: closing the achievement gap.

It's the gaping hole where black, Hispanic, rural and low-income students fall, way below their Caucasian and more affluent counterparts in academic performance.

Future teachers like Jennifer Miller from Elmwood Park, are members of a force determined to defeat it.

“I'm a special education major,” Miller said. “I'm already in the education field, and I've always been passionate about teaching.”

Unlike Miller, most Teach for America corps members did not plan a teaching career, but they are all top professionals or top graduates, like Jason Kingman.

“I went to school at the University of Kansas at Lawrence,” Kingman said. and my major was anthropology.”

"We do a really rigorous selection process to find our corps members who are really invested in our kids,” Vice President of Teach for America Susan Asiyanbi said. “We had about 48 thousand applicants who applied, we took a little over 5,000."

Instead of the traditional route to the classroom, the TFA corps crams it into five weeks.

The workload over the five weeks is intense. After spending all evening in the dormitory working together, going over lesson plans, reviewing what they've learned, they get ready for their student teaching in the morning and spend all afternoon in seminars.

The seminar FOX Chicago observed was about collaborative teaching. It will be crucial that these teachers work well with other teachers in the schools they'll be sent to - teachers who may resent TFA's elite reputation.

"We have many studies over time that have been showing the impact of the significant gains our teachers have been making for our students,” Asiyanbi said. “We have a study from Tennessee that actually shows that our teachers on average, compared to average teachers, are actually performing significantly higher.”

Building a better teacher can't be done in just the five week institute.

These future educators commit to two years in the corps - and TFA Is there every step of the way. It has 20 years experience with beginner teachers in the most challenging schools

“They've provided me with so many resources,” Miller said. “Which continues to build my confidence"

Miller, Kingman and the thousands of others who made the cut this year have to be interviewed and hired just like other teachers. They are paid the same wages, and join the same unions.

But TFA corps members tend to be in great demand - especially since they can only apply to schools in great need.

"I'm going to the twin cities, Minneapolis,” Kingman said. “I'm teaching middle school special education."

They have to believe that their actions can change the outcome for students there.

“We really instill our corps members with the mindset that belief and action is actually what matters,” Asiyanbi said.

Kingman said it is also important to teach these kids that they can become the best learners they can be, no matter their ability when they enter the classroom.

Since this story went up, some readers have asked about the background visuals Fox News allowed to appear behind their TFA white people. One was that vertical green and red sausage-like thingy behind TFA Boot Camper Jennifer Miller, quoted so often in the story it's like she's their stereotype. A veteran teacher's advice: If you're going to try and teach in a middle school or high school, reorient that visual carefully, or the giggles will ground your achievement gap overcoming work for at least a year or two.


August 4, 2011 at 12:24 PM

By: Kati Gilson

TFA article

My preschoolers would make mincemeat out of these inexperienced teachers. I too came to the classroom from a different line of work. I was fortunate enough to have mentoring and teach in a small setting while I learned the ropes. Between the students, parents and CPS these teachers don't stand a chance!

August 5, 2011 at 7:22 PM

By: Kathy Jacobs

TFA Parallel Universe

There is not another career, profession, or trade anywhere that proclaims to the world that someone who has had 5 weeks of introduction to that career, profession, or trade is not only ready to take over an experienced worker’s position, but will certainly be better at it. TFA can spin blatantly all day long, since we are at a point in our history where local politicians want a do-over on the worth they have assigned to the teaching profession, but we all know the truth. Experience at anything counts.

All TFAers, unless they are missionaries, want a job that has salary and benefits. Teacher-bashers across the country have developed a narrative that teachers are the only adults in the world who should not concern themselves about their salaries and benefits because they deal with CHILDREN. None of the politicians and media clowns have kicked in one penny of their 6 and 7-figure salaries to help with the economy. Yet, they keep frowning at veteran teachers as they demand that for the good of United States teachers must work for considerably less than their contracted wages

Could we all quit pretending that TFAers are jumping at the chance to get public school money because they are obsessively altruistic? If that were the case, they could volunteer at a school. They want a job like everyone else. Ooora! But please, Dear God, can the ask-no-questions press stop trying to present them like the Second Coming?

I guess not. Vice President of Teach for America Susan Asiyanbi says,

“We have a study from Tennessee that actually shows that our teachers on average, compared to average teachers, are actually performing significantly higher.” And Robin Robinson doesn’t say, “Produce it?”

August 6, 2011 at 8:37 AM

By: Bob Busch

TFAs as pampered FNGs?


I can only write about the TFA people I worked with and I will not knock somebody just because they are new. We all had to learn one way or the other . I knew some great teachers that never went to college. The old Smith Hughes shop teachers were all from the trades, although a lot of them went back and finished college after they started teaching. You got it or you don’t.

My question is this: Have any of these studies looked at the type of classes these FNGs get to teach? I know of one person who got a program of IB and honors classes right out of the gate, with no experience at all, none. When I think back after 41 years at my first year things have changed. After 20 days at CVS, so many white kids fled to Bowen several of us got riffed. I was lucky because they sent me to Bowen, which by then needed teachers. That year I was given one spec ed class in a mobile unit, two regular classes, and two classes of students that were handpicked by their teachers to fill me up. That amounted to three preps in five different rooms. Looking back that experience made me a teacher. These new kids are being treated with kid gloves. God help them when reality hits home.

August 6, 2011 at 7:11 PM

By: Tamara Shay


I was just thinking I would not want someone with 5 weeks of experience to work on my car, yet they throw these mostly young ladies into a classroom and expect them to work miracles on our children. Most of these people will move on to their "real" career goal in 2 years time.

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

4 + 2 =