Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform: Searching for Agency in an Era of Standardization

Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform: Searching for Agency in an Era of Standardization

by Katherine Crawford-Garrett
     
 

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This book traces the experiences of one cohort of Teach For America (TFA) corps members as they reconcile their hopes for their students with the reality of teaching in a district that favors compliance over compassion. Drawing on ethnographic and practitioner inquiry methods, Crawford-Garrett highlights the voices of the teachers as they wrestle with urban poverty,

Overview

This book traces the experiences of one cohort of Teach For America (TFA) corps members as they reconcile their hopes for their students with the reality of teaching in a district that favors compliance over compassion. Drawing on ethnographic and practitioner inquiry methods, Crawford-Garrett highlights the voices of the teachers as they wrestle with urban poverty, question bureaucratic mandates, resist dehumanizing reform initiatives, and experiment with critical pedagogy. The book examines how their socialization into the profession positions them as passive recipients of knowledge and engenders deficit ideologies of students, families, and communities. Ultimately, this book attends to the role of the teacher educator in introducing multiple educational lenses to the corps members and asserts that the university methods course can encourage new teachers to (1) critically engage with the institutional settings which shape their experiences, (2) question and problematize deficit ideologies, and (3) adopt and enact identities as knowledgeable practitioners.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
«This smart book adds theoretical and ethnographic insight to a growing body of literature that is critical of urban education reform in general, and TFA in particular. Her close examination of how TFA corps members understand their roles provides evidence that recent education reforms are making over schools into Taylorist factories, where students and teachers are expected to be cogs in increasingly dehumanizing machines. asingly dehumanizing machines.» (Andrew Hartman, Associate Professor of History, Illinois State University)
«As I read I could not help feeling sympathetic for these young, well-intentioned ‘teachers,’ as many of their poignant testimonials extend beyond TFA and into thousands of public school classrooms. ‘I just realized I would rather be fired than keep doing this stuff that is harming my kids’ is not a sentiment limited to TFA corps members, and it is one, of many, that more parents and concerned citizens should listen to and act upon. Crawford-Garrett uses her critique of TFA to problematize the larger neoliberal ‘reform’ movement driving educational reform. It is this fact that makes this a worthy read for anyone concerned about the future of public schools.» (Philip Kovacs, Assistant Professor of Education, University of Alabama, Huntsville)
«This engaging and highly readable book is both disturbing and hopeful. Crawford-Garrett combines powerful lenses - from international humanitarian aid to practitioner inquiry - to theorize the experiences of 43 TFA teachers during their first year of teaching in failing urban schools. The author paints a troubling picture of TFA that is quite different from the one embraced by policymakers, philanthropists, and the corporate world. This is a must-read for those who are serious about teacher education reform.» (Marilyn Cochran-Smith, Cawthorne Professor of Teacher Education for Urban Schools, Lynch School of Education, Boston College)
«TFA is long overdue for the close, critical examination undertaken in this book. We hear directly from corps members about their experiences, which reveal some disturbing patterns. How could a group dedicated to equity and innovation yield the opposite results? If you want to understand the way education reform plays out in the real world, this is a great place to start.» (Anthony Cody, Author, Living in Dialogue blog)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781433123788
Publisher:
Lang, Peter Publishing, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/26/2013
Series:
Educational Psychology: Critical Pedagogical Perspectives
Pages:
137
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Crawford-Garrett, an assistant professor at Ithaca College, holds an EdD from the Reading/Writing/Literacy program at the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in English literature from the Breadloaf School of English. Dr. Crawford-Garrett has been exploring urban education for the past 15 years as a 5th grade teacher, teacher educator, researcher, and scholar.

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