In its twenty-five years of existence, Teach For America (TFA) has transformed from an organization based on a perceived need to ameliorate a national teacher shortage to an organization that seeks to systematically replace traditional fully-certified teachers while simultaneously producing alumni who are interested in facilitating neoliberal education reform through elected political positions. From its inception, TFA has had its share of critics; yet criticism of the organization by its own members and alumni has largely been silenced and relegated to the margins.
This book – the first of its kind – provides alumni of TFA with the opportunity to share their insight on the organization. And perhaps more importantly, this collection of counter-narratives serves as a testament that many of the claims made by TFA are, in fact, myths that ultimately hurt teachers and students. No longer will alumni voices be silenced in the name of corporate and neoliberal education reform.
About the Author
T. Jameson Brewer is an advanced PhD student of educational policy studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He earned a M.S. in social foundations of education from Georgia State University and a B.S.Ed. in secondary education from Valdosta State University. His research focuses on the impact(s) of privatization/marketization of public schools by way of charters, vouchers, and Teach For America.
Kathleen deMarrais is Professor of Qualitative Research Methodologies in the Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, and Policy at the University of Georgia. Her current research tracks the network of philanthropic funding for educational non-profits and its impact on educational policy in the U.S.
Table of Contents
Contents: TFA’s Recruitment, Training, and Support Structure – Jessica Millen: The TFA Bait and Switch: From «You’ll Be Making a Difference» to «You’re Making Excuses» – Erin M. Nolan: The Blip on the Resume or the Seed of Social Justice?: The Eight-Year Impact of Eight Months with Teach For America – Brendon Jobs: Productive Mistakes: Teacher Mentorship and Teach For America – Michael J. Steudeman: Ignoring the Ghost of Horace Mann: A Reflective Critique of Teach For America’s Solipsistic Pedagogy – Laura Taylor: What Is an Excellent Education? The Role of Theory in Teach For America – Matthew Lynde Chesnut: Teach for Ambivalence, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love to Teach – Ian Scott: Teach For America, Neoliberalism, and the Effect on Special Education – TFA’s Approach to Diversity – Sarah Ishmael: Dysconscious Racism, Class Privilege, and TFA – Amber Kim: Perpetuating, Committing, and Cultivating Racism: The Real Movement Behind TFA – Jay Saper: Teach For (Whose?) America – Anne Martin: Elite by Association, but at What Expense? Teach For America, Colonizing Perspectives, and a Personal Evolution – Monica Chen: «I Always Finish Everything»: The Challenge of Living Up to My TFA Commitment – Summer Pennell: The Gaps Between You and Me: Being Gay in TFA: TFA’s Approach to Criticism and Critics – Wendy Chovnick: Good Intentions Gone Bad: Teach For America’s Transformation from a Small, Humble Nonprofit into an Elitist Corporate Behemoth – Walt Ecton: «I Confess, I Am a TFA Supporter. But…» – Ryan Garza: From 106th to 41st, One Chicagoan’s Experience with Teach For America and Chicago Public Schools – Derrick Houck: Can We Change? Reflections on TFA’s Ongoing Internal Criticism – Terrenda White: Beyond Dupes, Disciples, and Dilettantes: Ideological Struggles of TFA Corps Members – Barbara Torre Veltri: Voices of Revitalization: Challenging the Singularity of Teach For America’s «Echo Chamber» – Gary Rubinstein: The Grandfather of Alumni TFA Critics.