Last week, we received a second letter from the group United Students Against Sweatshops via email. When the group reached out a few weeks ago to share concerns with our approach, we responded, including an invitation to meet for further discussion. Since these letters are being sent publicly, we’ve provided detailed corrections on the misinformation they include here, and wanted to share our latest email below.

Matt’s email response to USAS:

Dear Blake,

Thank you for your response to our letter. I am glad to hear that you’ll sit down with us. I would welcome you and your colleagues to our offices in New York if that would be convenient, but I am equally happy with another location if you’d prefer. While Elisa is out on maternity leave following the birth of her son, I’ll have to represent the both of us, and may bring a few of my colleagues who are directly involved in our work preparing and supporting teachers across the country, so that they can hear from you directly.  Some dates that could work in the next month are: 10/28, 10/29, 10/30, 11/11, 11/12, and 11/13. Given the role that Randi Weingarten and the AFT are playing in supporting your efforts, we’d also welcome her if you’d like to encourage her to join us. 

In my preschool classroom, story time is the most anticipated part of the day. My students sit on the rug and I sit in my chair to read stories and be transported to other places and worlds. One of my favorite stories to read is Rosemary Wells’ Bunny Cakes.

Congresswoman Dina Titus

Yesterday we received the following letter from the group United Students Against Sweatshops via email. The letter raised important issues and concerns and so we felt it was critical to share both their letter and our email back for all of those interested.

Our email response to USAS:

Growing up in Alabama my family dinner table conversations centered on the importance of a strong and well-rounded education. For my parents, this ideal went beyond good grades and what happens inside the classroom – that was important! - they also wanted to make sure my brothers and I were developing academically with a strong focus on how we could lead and serve others. My parents inspired and motivated us through their own example.

Pass The Chalk Editorial Team

Twenty years ago today, on September 12, 1994, the first class of 20,000 AmeriCorps members began serving in more than 1,000 communities nationwide. At the swearing in ceremony, President Clinton described service as “a spark to rekindle the spirit” – asking the newly minted members, “What is right? What is wrong? And what are we going to do about it?”

Last week, we read Dana Goldstein’s piece in Vox about the evolution of Teach For America. We’ve posted some reflections below, and would love to continue the dialogue here on Pass The Chalk. Please share your own thoughts and reactions—your voice helps us get better.

In a recent piece in The Washington Post, (“The education-reform movement is too white to do any good”), Dr. Andre Perry brings up some very relevant, viable arguments about the education reform movement today. I had the pleasure of joining him at a recent conference, where black leaders in reform gathered to discuss the issues that matter most about education and securing our children’s future.

To our community:

Today, we want to honor the life of an incredible leader, writer, and advocate: Maya Angelou. She once said:

Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.

We want to celebrate that love today, and we want to remember the work and wisdom of Dr. Angelou, who has inspired both of us with the power of her words. Throughout her life, Dr. Angelou’s writing addressed issues of justice and equity with a power that few possess. Her words will live on, and her legacy will continue to inspire us—she reminds us of the impact that teachers, families, and communities can have when we unite in our shared love of children and our shared commitment to what they deserve.

Angelina D. Phebus

(Photo credit: sunchild123)

Teach For America’s emphasis on the importance of identity and culture in teaching is impressive. I am Choctaw, and I became interested in serving as a South Dakota corps member during grad school. The Native Alliance Initiative (NAI) and Teach For America’s commitment to growing its presence in Native community schools resonated with me and my experiences as a student.

I did not have any Native teachers when I was in school. I received a good education, and I adored my teachers, but I never felt validated or understood in terms of culture and race. The concept of Native culture was so uncommon in the community where I was raised that most of my classmates assumed I was Hispanic. I had a hard time understanding who I was and why my family had relocated from their community, and I went through a difficult process of self-discovery. I was inspired to serve as a teacher in a Native community so that I could provide my students with cultural experiences that I didn’t receive as a child. I was determined to serve as a role model to my students of what is possible and foster a love and appreciation for culture in my classroom so that my students would never have to experience the emptiness of not knowing and understanding their identity.

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We believe education is the most pressing issue facing our nation. On Pass the Chalk, we'll share our takes on the issues of the day, join the online conversation about education, and tell stories from classrooms, schools, and communities around the nation.

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The thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed on Pass the Chalk are the responsibility of individual bloggers. Unless explicitly stated, blog posts do not represent the views of Teach For America as an organization. 

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