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Group urges Phoenix’s Teach For America branch to not accept state funding

Phoenix’s Teach For America chapter has been offered $500,000 by the state of Arizona as a part of an annual appropriation, which will last three years.

It comes out of the Arizona legislature’s passing of the new state budget, and it has some people raising their hands in protest.

Nearly $100 million was cut from state university systems and some reports project the K-12 system to lose nearly $100 million as well due to the new budget.

And while Teach For America had not previously gotten state funding, questions were raised when Arizona governor Doug Ducey, a former regional board member for TFA, allotted the $500,000 toward the organization.

A group consisting of dozens of TFA alumni, corp members and staff members wrote a letter to the organization’s executive director, Lindsay DeFrancisco, asking her to not accept the money when public education would simultaneously be severely underfunded:

At a time when the governor of Arizona is unfairly asking schools across the state to “tighten their belts,” and at a time when educators and advocates across the state are raising their voices in opposition to yet another round of devastating cuts, we politely ask your organization to do the same. As a concerned group of Corps Members, alumni, and former staff members, we have written this letter to respectfully ask you to turn down the funding earmarked for Teach For America as written in the most current state budget proposal.

There is a massive contradiction that exists when an organization that claims to work for the education of all children is part of a process that robs Peter to pay Paul…. To think that our organization would receive any funding at all from the state in this context seems inconsistent with Teach For America’s core values and our individual and collective work towards improving public education in Arizona, even if the funding is intended to expand the presence of Teach For America. We can not support Teach For America’s growth in the context of everything that is shrinking: budgets, funding sources, support for public education, and, ultimately, opportunities for children. Even with more corps members, or more support staff for corps members, children will struggle when they don’t have a library, access to a guidance counselor, or the ability to keep up with skyrocketing tuition costs.

DeFrancisco responded, saying she would not refuse the money.

Both of the letters in their entirety can be found here.