Tim Wise's July 29 Teach For America Diversity Training IS A Ghetto Pass, Not Harm Reduction. Sign the Petition

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last week we took longtime friend Tim Wise to task for stamping the anti-racist ghetto passes at Teach For America July 29 in Charlotte.  Tim's 3,000 word response didn't tell us where he is on school privatization, cited "harm reduction" and "because it's there" as reasons to stamp those ghetto passes.  Epic fail.  So forward the petition, sign the petition and let's do what we can to discredit Teach For America, with or without Tim Wise.

Tim Wise's July 29 Teach For America Diversity Training IS A Ghetto Pass, Not Harm Reduction. Sign the Petition

By BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon


Thanks for pointing out the error in last week's piece, your Charlotte TFA gig is the 29th, not the 19th, which gives us a little extra time to talk about this. We understand though, if you don't want to talk. You've had my number since last Wednesday and haven't called yet.

You recently told the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy that diversity training for a predatory corporation just results in more black and brown faces in the room. So even if people of color inside Teach For America invited you to do this gig that wouldn't matter. Black military officers, black BP & Exxon Mobil execs want a friendly workplace too. They don't want their bosses looking like out and out racists while they invade countries, run secret prisons, rob the world and pillage the environment. So they sign up internal diversity trainers and they look for ways to appear superficially non-racist even though their core missions invariably devastate communities of color more than anywhere else. It's how the game is played.

Given that, “stamping the anti-racist ghetto passes” accurately describes the service you perform for Teach For America. Who better for the public relations end of it than an ostensible leftist?

The argument that if you didn't consult for TFA somebody else would is precisely the same as saying "because it's there".  That's not a reason.  It's an excuse. 

You say you “...know full well the issues with TFA and their model...” but in 3,000 words you never spell them out. Why? Given the rank dishonesty TFA and its foundation and corporate allies use to push their agenda of educational privatization, if you can't tell us what those objections are it looks like you're doing an Obama, inviting us to read our own views into your silence. Plenty of Obama-supporting liberals are on the corporate school reform and privatization bus. Cut to the chase Tim, and tell us whether you're one of them or not.

TFA is a key player in the bipartisan elite scam of corporate education reform aimed de-skilling and dispersing public school workforces to soften them up for eventual privatization.  The mostly white TFA temps, who get only 5 weeks training to do 2 year terms as missionary ghetto teachers are NOT better than the educators they replace, and nobody ever does this kind of thing with white suburban schools. That's not racist? C'mon Tim.

The TFA model enjoys the blessings of the foundation world, the business community across the country and the Obama administration, whose Race To The Top program is hollowing out public education, closing schools by the hundreds and pushing the drive to privatize along at a record rate.

If you imagine the “harm reduction” of your TFA diversity consulting outweighs the evil of the crusade to destroy public education which you help validate, contribute to and strengthen then you are awfully full of yourself. This is way bigger and more important than Tim Wise.

We at Black Agenda Report have always opposed the drive to privatize education. In the past we promoted your books for free, published your columns, even provided you space to answer one of your critics. Your decision to cash in your anti-racist cred to be TFA's diversity consultant was a decision to step between us and a longtime target. So even though it's not really about you Tim, you can get some too, if that's what you really want.

You can get out of your deal with TFA if you really want to Tim. We hope you do. By the time TFA changes from the inside there won't be any public schools left. But there will still be plenty of business for diversity trainers, even if diversity, rather than reducing the harm that evil institutions do, often gets us more effective evils.

For everybody else, please sign the petition asking Tim Wise not to stamp the ghetto passes of Teach For America at www.blackagendareport.com/tfa. If you've already signed it, forward it to someone else between now and July 29.

For Black Agenda Report, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

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 may be contacted via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.