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Former TFA Member: Don't Tell Me I Hate Teachers

On Talking Points Memo this morning, Conor P. Williams, a former Teach For America teacher who's now an education researcher with the New America Foundation, says he's tired of being attacked as someone who's opposed to public education and teachers just because he has written about some education reform initiatives without absolute condemnation. He writes:

When people tell me that the 'education reform' movement is a corporate enterprise run by wealthy adults who scorn teachers, I'm genuinely confused. I consider myself part of the education reform movement because I know the dire state of American public school instruction. I know the difference that great teaching can make—because it was so rare in my schooling. Those outstanding few were my heroes.  

Williams goes on to explain that, like many TFA members, he left teaching after the required two years of service—but he did so in part because he was brutally mugged near the Brooklyn school where he worked. He says he still "loves teachers, teaching, and public education."

And he doesn't see why his background, or his interest in weighing education-improvement ideas, should make others think otherwise:

[W]hile I'm open to the possibility that some of the education reforms that make sense to me may not actually work as well I hope, I'm tired of being told that I have no standing in these debates, or that I hate teachers. You want to have a debate on the merits? Fine. But don't accuse me of being disingenuous. Because I care about public education, and I have the teaching scars to prove it.

Williams has written recently about education politics in Washington and New York City, among other school issues. 

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