Sunday, February 13, 2011

Last Stand for Children First Attends the Teach for America Summit

I just got back from the Teach for America Summit in Washington, DC and though I am exhausted and hung over I am also extremely energized to continue my fight to get every student an excellent education.   Many people think that our agenda is anti-teacher, but nothing could be further from the truth.  We love teachers, but we simply want them to quit enriching themselves by draining future generations of their hopes and dreams by acting as vampires who feed on our children.  It was amazing to see 11,000 like-minded people who weren’t afraid to put students first and not allow experience, research, or anybody else get in their way.

Our booth was a huge success.  We sold out of our bubble test wallpaper and nearly sold our entire stock.  Many TFAers it seems are raising the next generation of high-achieving children and wanted the wallpaper for their personal use.  We also gave away our entire stock of safety tape, which was our free give away.  After we learned that Michelle Rhee had once been horrified to find that the mouths of the class whose mouths she had taped were all bleeding, we went to work on finding a safer tape that would still stop children from opening their mouths, but would not cause physical damage.  Safety Tape does just that and is available in a wide variety of fun colors from Silent Sable to Noiseless Navy.  We are also working on a new brand of Velcro restraints that we hope to have out for next year’s TFA convention.

Michelle Rhee was of course very impressed with our tape and even applied some to Myron Miner’s mouth while joking around during a panel discussion.  Rhee offered a startling statistic for the future that I am sure she didn’t just make up saying, “123,000 new high tech jobs will be coming to the United States and only 50,000 students are qualified to do them.”   
Ms. Rhee suggested that there were many ways for the remaining 73,000 students to pad their résumés and suggested that résumé padding is something that all students should be taught in school.

Joel Klein inspired us all by saying that we should make this “our Egypt moment.”  At first, I couldn’t see the parallels, but then I remembered Klein was now working for Rupert Murdoch who saw Hosni Mubarak as the hero of Egypt’s “Egypt moment”.  When I remembered that, and thought of Wisconsin’s brave Governor Scott Walker threatening to send out the National Guard to help him crush the public employee unions in the state and the way that Mubarak threatened to do similar things to the trade unions helping occupy Tahrir Square, it made a lot more sense.  When I thought back to Michelle Rhee’s comments about the DC schools falling apart without her and the way Mubarak said such similar things, I realized that we need to stand up to resistance in a way Mubarak didn’t have the courage to.  Otherwise our ruling elite will wind up like Egypt’s did.

Arne Duncan was of course a highlight of the convention.  Our own Ryan Wilson got a chance to exchange Australian basketball stories before settling in to listen to Duncan remind everybody that American jobs are drawn overseas by superior education systems and not by the ability of American companies to pay offshore workers 20 cents an hour.  Duncan then dropped a bombshell resigning from the Department of Education saying, “There should be two types of people in education: Teachers and those who help them. Everyone else should get out of the way.”

Duncan has been a remarkable Education Secretary and he will be a tough act to follow.  I hope that President Obama will consult with both Eli Broad and the Gates Foundation before picking the best possible candidate.  I’d really love to see what a Joel Klein could do with this position. [Editor’s note:  Duncan has not resigned.  He apparently was including himself in the “those who help them” category.]

As an organization, we made some outstanding contacts.  The Opportunists Project is a group of hedge fund managers who believe there is great many to be made in education opening for profit charter schools.   We have much in common with them and we will continue to work together.  We have also made great inroads with Libertarians for Education Reform who mostly just want the government to leave students alone and allow individual student districts to have the choice whether to remove asbestos from their schools or not—we definitely can work with these people as well.
The optimism of so many young people reminded me of working on the Steve Forbes campaign back when I was in high school.  Seeing this many young people filled with such optimism working for the future is just something you don’t see like this outside of North Korea.  Teach for America remains an idea that works, not only because of the 14% of members who stay beyond their initial 2 year commitment, but also because of the many who go on to education policy so that they can tell others what to do.


  1. Teachers are vampires draining the hopes and dreams of children?

    I hope you are not in the classroom

  2. World to Clueless:

    "though I am exhausted and hung over"

    you were not at a frat party, please stay out of the classroom.

  3. I am not in the classroom, though I did teach for 2 years so I know what it's like to be a teacher. I've just moved on to where my skills can be more useful--education policy

  4. This "bubble test wallpaper" is an idea that exudes excellence and that is clearly anything but a band-aid solution! What better way to educate children than to surround them (literary and physically!) with the most important educational measurement device ever developed! Bravo, gentlepersons!

  5. LOL! I don't know who the mastermind is for this site/blog, but this is friggin' hilarious.

  6. Side-splitting, and oh-so-true!

  7. No excuses!

  8. Who do I make the check out to? I want to stand for children too!

  9. Dear Myron,

    Please consider bringing your wares to Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action (, on July 28-31 in Washington, DC. And please consider me your inside contact for this effort and don't hesitate to drop me a line should you want to ask questions or get an update to report out to your readers.

    Many thanks,

    Jeff Bryant

  10. Taping students' mouths shut? Really? I thought that went out with 1960's Catholic schools. This is what you call reform? This is how you propose to improve America's schools? God help us all!

  11. Thanks for opening my eyes to the true loathesomeness of myself and my colleagues. As an Ohio teacher, perhaps I and my peers should voluntarily imprison ourselves in the governor's private prisons once he finishes selling them, for the corruption of being teachers and union members all these years. I am sure we could be assigned to hard labor and reduced rations as a cost-cutting measure to atone for the delusions we had when we became teachers!