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The Difference Between Teach For America and a Scab Temp Agency Printer friendly page Print This
By Bruce A. Dixon, Editor BAR
Black Agenda Report
Monday, Jul 29, 2013

Back in the days of organizing meat packing, steel and auto workers, employers couldn't use tax-exempt donations to transport, pay and train their scabs, and they had to wait for strikes to deploy them. That was before Teach For America ....

What's the Difference Between "Teach For America", and a Scab Temp Agency?

If you're a public school parent or student, there's none. If you're an educator or other school employee or a friend or relative of any school employee, there's none. If you live in a community where the local public school is one of the last hopeful possibilities that might bind a neighborhood together, there's none.

If you're a school CEO or administrator trying to hollow out your public schools to justify their closing and privatzation, or a mayor trying to justify those campaign contributions, there's no difference at all, either. If you're a hedge fund investor, like the charter school sugar daddies who contribute billions to Barack Obama and a host of black and white politicians in state and local government across the country; there's still no difference.

You have to be a taxpayer --- and let's understand that corporate elites and the wealthy have largely shed the burden of taxation onto the backs of the middle class and the poor in this the era of neoliberalism, to begin to see a little difference.... The Grapes of Wrath era scabs were generally not trained, transported or paid with tax-exempt foundation money.

Teach For America is a big recipient of corporate philanthropy – no surprise about that either, as nonprofit organizations and the deep corporate pockets that sustain them have played indispensable roles in the drive to privatize public education from the beginning. It's only logical that with the elevation of Barack Obama, the first president to emerge from the bowels of the foundation sector, the influence of these outfits has been omnipresent. Consultant tentacles of the Gates, Joyce, Boeing, Broad, Bradley, Walton Foundations, to name just a few of the top players, have been allowed to write federal program guidelines, to define criteria for assessing individual schools and entire districts, to invent their own instant-principal programs, with all salaries, overhead and expenses paid for by tax-exempt donations. Bosses during the last Great Depression usually had to pay for their own scabs, there was no way they could unload that on all the rest of us.

The other big difference between the scenarios that greeted auto and steel workers and fruit pickers 75 years ago is that back then, management usually waited for workers to go on strike before trying to replace them. Now they just lay off real teachers every year and hire TFA scabs.... as this rap from the HBO series “Treme” reminds us...

Davis M., rhyming to a musical collaborator:

Four years at Radcliffe, that's all you know,
a desire to do good and a 4.0.
You're here to save us from our plight,
you got the answer cause you're rich and white
on a two year sojourn you're here to stay,
Teach For America all the way
got no idea just what you're facin',
no clue just who you're displacin'
old lady taught fathers, old lady taught sons,
old lady bought books for the little ones
old lady put in thirty years, sweat and toil, time and tears
was that really your sad intention,
to help the state of Louisiana deny her pension?


Hold it, hold it....
First of all the state of Louisiana fired the teachers,
not Teach for America

Davis M.: A scab is a scab is a scab...

Nobody, ever said it better. A scab is a scab is a scab. For Black Agenda
, I'm Bruce Dixon.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and can be reached through this site's contact page or at bruce.dixon(at)

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