Why Is Tim Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Tim Wise specializes in talking to white people about racism. Teach For America is a major player in the elitist and racist scam to privatize public education, supplying mostly white grads of elite colleges as ghetto teacher temps. Is this a match made in heaven, or in hell?

Why Is Tim Wise Stamping the Anti-Racist Ghetto Passes at Teach For America

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Tim Wise has made a career as an author and speaker lecturing white Americans on racism. We suppose that's a good thing and that somebody's gotta do it. Mr. Wise is speaking at a major Teach For America event on July 19. How do we reconcile that with a stand against racism? We can't, and unless TFA is gonna pay Mr. Wise to tell them their entire practice and premise is elitist, evil and yes, racist, we're pretty sure he can't reconcile it either.

Teach For America is part of an elite bipartisan scam to privatize public education, starting, and perhaps ending with the inner city. TFA replaces qualified, experienced mostly black teachers who live in the communities they serve with mostly white temps, graduated from a 5 week course who will move on to Wall Street and other lucrative careers after only a couple seasons in the classroom.

Closing public schools and replacing experienced teachers with Ivy League missionary temps isn't something that's being done to wealthy white suburban public schools. It's only the prescribed remedy for school districts full of black and brown youth, and black and brown teachers. President Obama's signature education program, Race To The Top advances the privatization agenda in many ways, and one of these is by encouraging, really forcing, school districts to lay off, fire or reject new applications from experienced teachers and graduates of real teaching programs by the thousands in favor of the mostly white temps from elite schools that Teach For America and similar outfits provide.

There's no proof that TFA's missionaries improve ghetto schools. The truth is it takes years to become a competent teacher. TFA's purpose is to change the teacher workforce to temps not connected to students, their families or communities as a prelude to privatization. The last thing a school privatizer wants is a school full of qualified, experienced teachers deeply connected to the communities they serve with a tradition of collective action (that's what a union -- a real union – is) and who know how to run the joint themselves.

In perspective, it was Teach For America that gave us Michelle Rhee, as well as the current DC schools chancellor Henderson, who used to be Rhee's boss at TFA.

Selectively sabotaging the education of black children, dispersing experienced workforces of organized black teachers connected to their communities sounds like an indisputably racist policy on its face. Chicago teachers sued in federal court on that point and won. Apparently Teach For America needs somebody to stamp the anti-racist ghetto passes of it missionary workforce as they pass through the ghetto, so they've put an “anti-racism” educator and trainer on retainer.

So between now and July 18, we'll be carrying a petition, asking anti-racism educator Tim Wise NOT to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America. You can find it on our web site at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa.

We hope you will forward the petition widely and aggressively to all your friends and associates, lest Mr.Wise imagine that is just another unsurprising evil that black folks put up with, like pervasive surveillance. We promise not to share your information with any third parties absent your permission, and we will forward the signers list to Mr. Wise on the 18th.

If this is how “anti-racism education” works – giving cover to organizations and policies that hurt people of color more than anybody else, it might be time to re-think that whole contraption as well.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA and can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.