In my last post ‘Tea F A?’, I speculated that the former executive director of TFA Nashville was fired after a video surfaced of him saying some pretty disgusting things at a Tea Party Rally. This was just speculation based on a tip I received.
Now after putting this theory out to the public, much more information about this story has surfaced. If this information is accurate, it suggests something a lot more disturbing about TFA than that they hired someone who has disdain for students who get free lunch or whose parent are illegal immigrants. If this new information is accurate, it means that to TFA it is more of a sin to be a skeptic of the ‘no excuses’ charter model than it is to be a member of the Tea party.
First there was this comment left on Diane Ravitch’s blog post about this:
There’s actually more to this story. Adnan Barqawi cancelled the TFA Nashville contract with RePublic (no excuses) charter schools because of abusive treatment of teachers. Without TFA, RePublic can’t function. So, because RePublic and its leader, Ravi Gupta, are so well-connected and powerful in the charter movement, Mr. Barqawi was removed from his post and the TFA contract reinstated. Caution is advised here – attacking Mr. Barqawi will likely give TFA and RePublic cover to say that the abuse of teachers wasn’t real and allow them to conceal the real reason he was let go.
Then, I received an email from someone who wished to remain anonymous saying something similar:
Adnan came in in January 2015. Saw how many charter school teachers were responding to the high pressures of their schools. Working 80-90 hour weeks, even hospitalized bc of stress. He decided it wasn’t healthy and wanted to let corps members transfer to a different school if they wanted to. Some corps members immediately put in for a transfer. Supposedly, Wendy Kopp heard about this and called Adnan immediately from India and put him on administrative leave.
Well, if all this is true, I suppose I owe Barqawi a partial apology by suggesting he got fired from TFA for something he deserved to get fired from TFA for, but perhaps really got fired from TFA for actually trying to do something good.
This new theory about the short lived tenure at TFA of Adnan Barqawi is definitely interesting and maybe even more information about the situation will come from people responding to this second post about it.
Teach For America has never been flexible about teachers requesting transfers. They are very controlling so even letting one person transfer, they seem to fear, will lead to everyone wanting to transfer so they rarely approve of one. An extreme example happened last year when a corps member named Spencer Smith got into a life threatening car accident. Doctors thought he may never recover from traumatic brain injury, but somehow he did. He wanted to return to teaching but needed a transfer to be closer to his doctors, and they denied him this request. He wrote about the ordeal here.
So I’m not surprised if an executive director would get fired for being too permissive with transfers, particularly ones from ‘no excuses’ charter schools. It is just ironic that the Tea Party stuff may have had nothing to do with the decision.