REVIEW: Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform, Crawford-Garrett

dr. p.l. (paul) thomas

In her Chapter 3 for Becoming and Being a Teacher, Katherine Crawford-Garrett (University of New Mexico) “trace[d] the experiences of one cohort of first-year TFA corps members teaching in Philadelphia during the 2010-2011 school year at a time when the School District faced intense pressure to reform” (p. 27).

This chapter is a examination of several tensions related to Teach for America (TFA), teacher education, teacher agency, and urban education. Her new book from Peter Lang USA, Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform: Searching for Agency in an Era of Standardization, presents an extended critical analysis of those same experiences.

While TFA research, advocacy, and commentary offer various degrees of soaring rhetoric and harsh condemnation, Crawford-Garrett’s work reminds me of the powerful and effective look at one TFA corp member in New Orleans detailed in Sara Carr’s Hope Against Hope. Crawford-Garret, like Carr, seeks important…

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Teach For America Counter-Narratives (Peter Lang USA)

Teach For America Counter-Narratives

T. Jameson Brewer andKathleen deMarrais (eds.)

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.