Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Yesterday after my morning Penn class there was an afternoon full of Teach for America sessions. First up was a workshop and following that was a town hall discussion on the state of our region... that's when everything seemed to go out the window. Apparently our Mid-Atlantic region is one of the most dissatisfied in the program, so Teach for America brought in some national staff members to sit down in small groups (about fifty corps members in each) to hold town hall discussion to find out what we're not thrilled with. While it was very open and candid, the room had a rather tense feel to it, and few people made positive comments. Complaints were made in almost all aspects of the program in Philadelphia, from professional development sessions, to our program directors, to feelings of hostility, and anger at Teach for America's handling of our program at Penn.

In terms of our Penn program, what angered most people is that Friday afternoon, right before our Friday classes were about to start, all corps members received this enigmatic e-mail from someone at Penn saying that our Penn program director was going to be moved to a new position. It did not mention why, and it was not an e-mail from our director. Anyone who has ever talked to Dina (our director) would know that she would not have chosen to leave on her own accord - she did an amazing job at managing all of us, she was prompt and tactful with all of our dealings, and she was present at every one of our Penn days. And then, abruptly, she is gone, with no explanation. Rumor had it that Teach for America did not like the direction the program was heading and chose to replace her. I really hope this is not true, because we are all paying tens of thousands of dollars to go to Penn, and I for one do not want my Penn experience tainted with Teach for America's values. If the Penn program has a different view of what education needs to look like in this country, it should be welcomed and Teach for America should not be threatened by it.

Anyway, it was an interesting day and I was very proud that during the town hall discussion no one let their tempers or annoyances at Teach for America show and instead spoke openly about their grievances (which were many).

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