Is the Tennessee Department of Education a wholly owned subsidiary of Teach for America? Records starting to leak out from Planet Huffman indicate a cozier-than-normal relationship betweem the for-private education company and the leadership of the DOE.
Start with Kevin Huffman. Before he discovered the joys of living in the Volunteer state, he was a senior executive with Teach for America, working directly under TFA founder and Chairman, Wendy Kopp. In that roll, Huffman was apparently instrumental in securing a multi-million dollar contract for TFA from the Bredesen administration to supply young teachers who were then placed into some of the worst school systems in the state.
After moving directly from TFA to education commissioner, Huffman then played the other side of the contract, giving his old boss Kopp another $6 million no-bid contract for more teachers. The two contracts total nearly $12 million dollars.
As a result of Huffman’s largesse with his former employer, Tennessee spends more money per Teach for America recruit than any other state in the nation.
TFA teachers have been roundly criticize for having no degree in education, instead receiving only 5 weeks of education training before being air-dropped into some of the most difficult teaching environments in the state. The attrition rate for these newbie teachers is atrocious, with nearly 80% not making it past the first 3 years, with local schools sytems left holding the bag for their share of the cost for teacher dropouts.
But it doesn’t end there. Huffman has stacked the leadership at the Ed Dept. with his former colleagues from TFA. At least five of the most senior DOE leadership posts are TFA cronies of Huffman, such as Asst. Commissioner of Curriculum, Emily Barton
RTP will bring you copies of the contracts in its next posting on this subject. In the meantime, whenever the Huffman Junta advocates for some big new spending program (i.e., Common Core), legislators would be wise to watch the taxpayers wallets.