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Posted at 12:05 PM ET, 01/21/2011

How Teach for America sees itself

By Valerie Strauss

Here, from the Teach for America website, is a detailed job posting that explains a lot about how Teach for America sees itself in the world of school reform.


Job Description
Executive Director, Leadership for Educational Equity (Flexible; New York City, Washington, DC preferred)

Primary Location
: Flexible (anywhere in the U.S.) DC-Washington, D.C., NY-New York City
Team
: Alumni Affairs

Description

Position Summary
In 2007, Leadership for Educational Equity (LEE), a 501(c) (4) organization, was launched to encourage Teach For America alumni to bring their convictions and insights to bear on reshaping the policy context surrounding education as part of the broader effort to ensure educational excellence for all children. LEE does this by inspiring, training and supporting its members to pursue high impact careers in politics, policy, advocacy and elected office.

Already, Teach For America alumni are playing prominent roles in these fields. Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools, recently launched Students First, a national advocacy initiative focused on educational policy change. Michael Johnston served as the lead legislator on the breakthrough the SB191 resolution, which ties teacher evaluations to student academic growth and links evaluations to earning and keeping in Colorado. And Bill Ferguson ran a grassroots, education-centered campaign for the Maryland state senate that led to his defeating a 27 year incumbent.

In our first three years, LEE functioned mainly as a virtual community for members to support one other in running for office, launching advocacy campaigns, and engaging in education policy debates, and LEE’s website was used as an organizing tool in each of the stories described above. However, reflecting on early successes and lessons learned, and on the rapidly evolving education policy, politics and advocacy landscape, we see an opportunity to re-launch the organization with more ambitious aspirations and a broader range of programming designed to help a much larger set of Teach For America alumni impact education policy. The organization envisions making greater investments and developing new approaches in all of its core activities - inspiring involvement, training, and delivering support to people on the front lines.

At this critical juncture, LEE is seeking a new leader to develop the plan for the organization and lead its growth and development. The ideal candidate will be an exceptional entrepreneur and leader with a clear vision for the role that LEE can play in accelerating the impact of Teach For America alumni as a force for policy change; a strong relationship builder able to maintain effective ties with Teach For America and the many leaders in the rapidly evolving world of educational advocacy, policy and politics; and a strong manager able to plan and meet short - and long-term goals and build an effective organization

The Executive Director will report to the LEE Board of Directors and will be accountable for the overall strategy, performance, operations and health of the organization, and will manage its growth from a $1.5M budget and three full-time staff members today to a $5-10M budget by 2015.

About Leadership for Educational Equity
LEE believes that we will succeed in eliminating educational inequity only if a critical mass of leaders at every level of government believes that it is possible and understands what it will take to accomplish this end. When Teach For America corps members experience success teaching in low income communities, they emerge with the conviction that the opportunity to attain an excellence education is a civil right, and that the achievement gap is both unacceptable and solvable, if enormously complex. This set of deeply held beliefs, coupled with natural leadership traits and abilities that characterize a Teach For America corps member, is exactly what we need driving long-term systemic change throughout the public sector.

LEE was launched to inspire and support Teach For America alumni to pursue public leadership. We know alumni face significant internal and external hurdles on the path to realizing high impact careers in public leadership. Our mission is to enable Teach For America corps members and alumni to realize high impact careers in public leadership by: (1) educating LEE members about the policy, advocacy and political landscape in their region and in the nation so they are inspired and ready to participate politically and civically; (2) equipping LEE members with the skills, resources, and experiences to successfully pursue public leadership positions; (3) helping LEE members become highly effective change agents for educational equity once in positions of leadership; and (4) fostering a thriving LEE community in which members support one another in pursuing public leadership and actively engage around political and civic matters.

Currently, LEE has over 8,000 members, including Teach For America corps members and alumni in 39 regions across the United States. We will grow to more than 20,000 members in ~60 regions by 2015. As a result of the efforts to date, 55 members serve in elected office, 80+ are in high impact roles in policy and advocacy, and thousands of others are expressing interest in these fields. By 2015, LEE aspires to enable more than 275 of its members to serve in elected office, for more than 300 to be in policy and advocacy leadership roles, for more than 1,000 members to be in "active" pipelines for public leadership, and for more than 3,000 members to actively support one another in their political and advocacy pursuits. LEE also aspires to become a main destination for education reform supporters to find and support political and civic activists.

LEE is a high-growth; results-oriented organization. We operate in an entrepreneurial environment, maintain focus on objective measures of success, and are committed to continuous improvement.

Executive Director Role
The Executive Director of LEE will have the opportunity to chart a new course and build the organization. S/he will set the vision and the strategy, establish goals, and build a team of full-time staff charged with identifying and creating pathways into political, policy, and advocacy leadership for LEE members nationwide.
This position provides an excellent opportunity for an individual with a passion for education policy reform, deep knowledge of how local and national policies are set, and experience in politics or organizing to help expand the ways in LEE can support its members in leading and organizing to end educational inequity. Candidates should demonstrate strong leadership, strategic thinking, external communication, fundraising, and project management skills.

Responsibilities

Shape overall vision and strategy for Leadership for Educational Equity
* Establish the vision for how LEE supports Teach For America alumni to maximize their impact on changing educational policy through policy, politics, and advocacy careers
* Chart our course to establish the organization, to maximize our impact in the short and long run, and to evolve as necessary over time
* Ensure we make decisions with an eye to maximizing our long-term impact
Engage key stakeholders
* Grow a sustainable, diversified national funding base around a compelling fundraising strategy to position the 501(c)(4) for sustainable growth
* Build a strong partnership with Teach For America
* Establish and maintain other key external partnerships to ensure long-term sustainability of the work, including pursuing partnerships that produce the greatest value and impact for alumni
Build the organizational capacity of LEE
* Build from the current LEE board to establish a board that maximizes the impact of LEE; this includes seeking board members who have the influence and networks necessary to support our goals to cultivate alumni leaders in the public sector
* Manage a geographically and experientially diverse team responsible for achieving ambitious goals around alumni partnerships and leadership
* Lead a strategic and creative effort to use staff, new technologies, communications platforms, and alumni networks to deliver messages and materials that help LEE members to effectively pursue leadership
* Set annual goals that are in line with the vision and strategic plan and at the right intersection of ambitious and attainable
* Build the staff capacity and infrastructure necessary to sustain scale
* Identify and scale best-practice strategies around growing and sustaining leadership among our alumni base
* Establish a set of core values for the organization and ensure strategies and materials reflect the highest standards and are aligned with our institutional core values
Qualifications

Candidate Profile and Experience Prerequisites

Ideal Experience
* Minimum 7-10 years work experience.
* Bachelor’s degree
* 3-5 years of experience leading political, advocacy, or organizing efforts; and understanding of the campaign finance landscape
* Successfully started or implemented a large-scale initiative in a non-profit or public system environment
* Experience in fundraising from individuals and foundations
* Experience building, managing and growing a highly-effective team
Skills
* Strong client-service orientation and external relationship-building skills. High comfort level working with various types of people in different regional and local contexts.
* Strong critical and strategic thinker
* Strong organizational and project management skills
* Strong sense of possibility
* Deep knowledge of the political landscape - particularly how to organize, advocate or win elections at a local or state level
* Proven ability to set an inspiring vision and motivate others to reach ambitious goals in support of that vision
* Proven ability to operate and thrive in a fast-paced entrepreneurial environment
Benefits and Salary
Salary for this position is competitive and depends on prior experience. In addition, a comprehensive benefits package is included.

Anti-Discrimination Policy and Commitment to Diversity
Teach For America seeks individuals of all ethnic and racial backgrounds to apply for this position. We are committed to maximizing the diversity of our organization, as we want to engage all those who can contribute to this effort.

Application Requirements and Process
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please submit your resume and one-page cover letter with your application.

To link directly to this job listing, please use the following address: http://teachforamerica.taleo.net/careersection/01/jobdetail.ftl?&job=1097

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | January 21, 2011; 12:05 PM ET
Categories:  Achievement gap, Michelle Rhee, Teachers  | Tags:  achievement gap, closing achievement gap, leadership for educational equity, michelle rhee, teach for america, teach for america job posting, teach for america jobs  
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Next: Say it isn’t so on IMPACT, Mayor Gray

Comments

TFA aka Political Machine

Posted by: shadwell1 | January 21, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

The "Tea Party" of the educational world.

Posted by: guylady201001 | January 21, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

They require a minimum of 7-10 years work experience, including 3-5 years of experience leading political, advocacy, or organizing efforts; experience in fundraising; and experience building, managing, and growing a highly-effective team. Apparently, youthful energy and enthusiasm alone won't suffice for an important job like this.

Posted by: bhorn1 | January 21, 2011 5:21 PM | Report abuse

"This set of deeply held beliefs, coupled with natural leadership traits and abilities that characterize a Teach For America corps member, is exactly what we need driving long-term systemic change throughout the public sector."

Deeply held beliefs and natural leadership traits, eh?

Sounds like an advertisement for an evangelist.

Posted by: efavorite | January 21, 2011 5:58 PM | Report abuse

How about some teaching experience??

Posted by: TeacherTalk | January 21, 2011 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Since you post it without commentary, I assume you must think it's great. Or, perhaps you are not in favor of eliminating educational inequity. That is the overriding theme of the document. I know you are more concerned about ensuring old teachers get paid more than younger ones, and that no one is paid per their performance, since it is impossible to recognize a good teacher, but other people actually have more important concerns.

Basically, LEE is an organization for Teach for America alumni to help find roles where they are shaping policy. Big deal, so what?

Posted by: staticvars | January 21, 2011 11:38 PM | Report abuse

"Basically, LEE is an organization for Teach for America alumni to help find roles where they are shaping policy. Big deal, so what?"

The devil is, as they say, in the details.

Posted by: joshofstl1 | January 22, 2011 12:26 AM | Report abuse

What does the job description tell us, Strauss? The fact that you posted it without commentary tells me more about you than Teach for America. It tells me that you have very few, if any, intelligent thoughts in your brain, which is nothing new. Copying and pasting job descriptions from organizations you dislike doesn't qualify as journalism. You are a disgrace to The Washington Post, journalism and education.

Posted by: pensaed | January 22, 2011 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Strauss - you do a great job. Please continue to do as you have done in the past.

Posted by: educationlover54 | January 22, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

I think some who have posted so far have missed the point, and I think TeacherTalk found it - after skimming the summary several times, I find virtually NOTHING about actual teaching experience and expertise. It's all about BELIEVING in education (with an evangelical fervor, as efavorite pointed out) and a talent for PR, marketing and fundraising.

It really isn't about the actual work of teaching. Not at all. I can't help but think that's extremely significant.

(And I have no idea where other posters are getting the idea that Strauss doesn't care about educational equity - that's a bit of a ridiculous stretch.)

I'm all for having passionate people bring education to the forefront, but I'd love for them to have a REAL idea of what actual educators have to deal with. I understand that there are those out there who equate describing the tough reality of urban classrooms with making excuses for a lack of success [on standardized tests - which is a whole 'nother can of worms]. But you can't deny that a truly well-rounded perspective would include not only knowledge of how to manage people, raise boatloads of cash, and craft masterful marketing strategies, but also an idea of how you REALLY reach and teach our young people. And what is really needed to make a classroom work. It wouldn't hurt to have an idea of how to compensate for a lack of parental presence or support at home.

There are people out there who fit that bill. I hope we find them in time.

Posted by: BmoreBio | January 22, 2011 8:13 PM | Report abuse

LEE is an organization DESIGNED for Teach For America alumni. That implies that anyone responding to a LEE job description would have taught in a low-performing school for at least 2 years, if not more. You might not think that 2 years is enough experience, but this time gives you a crash course in what's not going right in our public schools. Yes, time in any field is valuable...but TFA teachers do gain valuable experience regardless...and many stay in the classroom longer than the 2-year commitment.

Posted by: meghanstroh | January 24, 2011 8:26 PM | Report abuse

http://www.change.org/petitions/view/tell_teach_for_america_to_give_low-income_children_of_color_well-prepared_teachers

Currently, TFA systematically assigns brand new teachers with only five weeks of summer school training to Black and Latino children in low-income communities. In addition, few TFA teachers remain in the classroom beyond TFA’s two-year requirement, depriving our children of experienced educators. These are bold injustices in a perpetually unfair education system that denies our children the critical resources they deserve and need to reach their full potential. The status quo educational inequity that assigns well-prepared teachers to middle class and wealthy White children and inadequately prepared teachers to our children must end.

Sign this petition and tell TFA CEO Wendy Kopp to reform Teach for America's model so teachers assigned to low-income communities of color receive at least a full year of high quality, school-based preparation before they assume responsibility for their own classroom and our children's education.

Thank you in advance!

-Communities For Well-Prepared Teachers


Posted by: communities4wellpreparedteachers | January 26, 2011 8:44 AM | Report abuse

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