Tag Archives: Teach for America

CALL for Proposals: Inside Stories: Teach For America Corps Members Speak Up and Speak Out

EXTENDED to JUNE 15, 2014

CALL FOR BOOK CHAPTER PROPOSALS – (now Under Contract with Peter Lang)

Inside Stories: Teach For America Corps Members Speak Up and Speak Out

Founded in 1989, Teach For America (TFA) has grown into a massive organization with a presence in thirty states and twenty-six countries, financially supported by a host of philanthropic foundations and other organizations with considerable influence.  Additionally, TFA constitutes an integral part of the larger neoliberal goal of privatizing education and teacher training.  Though a number of narratives from corps members exist, the vast majority of them are controlled or suppressed by TFA.  Moreover, as the organization uses supportive narratives to further its rhetoric of educational reform, the large body of corps member and alumni voices that desire to express discontent, discouragement, frustration, and even anger associated with their experiences with TFA has, until now, been largely silenced.  Following the lead of a critique of TFA by academics over the last few years, slowly TFA corps members and alumni have offered narratives to challenge the official rhetoric of TFA and the supposed “prestigious” position of being a TFA teacher.

In an effort to highlight and continue this counter-narrative, this volume will provide a collection of stories from current and former TFA corps members. We would also consider narratives of parents of TFA corps members. While the most effective tool of promoting TFA as a righteous and prestigious organization are the narratives from supportive corps members who tend to parrot approved talking points, this volume will provide a necessary counter-narrative that should be heard.

Proposals could highlight overall experiences, specific experiences with recruitment/application into TFA, summer Institute experiences, placement experiences, leaving TFA, etc.  The finished narratives should be between 5 and 10 double-spaced pages in APA format. Alternative formats such as poetry or other arts-based representations are also welcome.


Given the broad audience interested in TFA, we anticipate the audience to include researchers, school board members, principals, parents, and teachers and pre-service teachers.


1) Proposals due by JUNE 15, 2014. Include the following to Jameson Brewer at tbrewer2@illinois.edu:

a) Proposed title of chapter

b) Author(s) name, with complete addresses and 150-word biography for each author

c) 500-word abstract of proposed chapter

2) Confirmation of selected chapters by June 17, 2014;

3) Contributors will have their first drafts completed by August 15, 2014.

4) The editors will review these first drafts, and provide detailed comments and suggestions by September 17, 2014.

5) The contributors will make all of the necessary edits, and send the final chapters to the editors by October 17, 2014.

6) The editors will draft a comprehensive introductory chapter and have the foreword written by a well-known scholar in the field, which will be ready along with the index and other editorial issues by November 17, 2014.

7) Once the publisher’s Editor has approved the text, the finalized, formatted volume will be submitted to the publisher shortly after November 17, 2014 which should allow for copy-editing and other related matters to be completed for a publishing date sometime mid 2015.

For questions or queries, contact Jameson Brewer at tbrewer2@illinois.edu and/or Kathleen deMarrais at kathleen@uga.edu


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

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 understanding about education, education reform, and teacher education through a critical look at the complex and unpredictable experiences of novice teachers in high-poverty urban schools under incredible accountability pressure.

The seven chapters of Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform are grounded in some key contexts:

[T]he tragedy of urban education in this country has become a media spectacle, with the film Waiting for Superman garnering accolades, regardless of its limiting portrayals of teachers, optimistic endorsement of school choice and unexamined claim that outside intervention is an unequivocal good….The favored remedies…have little to do with the deep, reflective and locally driven approach that characterized the Civil Rights movement, emphasizing instead the de-professionalization of teachers, the persistent depiction of students and families as deficient and an overreliance on top-down mechanisms to improve teaching and learning. (p. 3)

For educators, administrators, policy leaders, and the public, Crawford-Garrett details an accessible, in-depth, and critical journey that maintains a focus on the tensions and complexity of education in two often contradictory contexts—high-stakes accountability and urban education.

While it would be easy simply to marginalize or reject TFA as an organization or even the often overly idealistic corp members, Crawford-Garrett instead confronts and challenges deficit perspectives about teaching, learning, and students; assumptions about urban education; and the failure of traditional education and education reform to honor and support teacher agency.

Reading this volume helps stakeholders from many arenas better understand the challenges of urban education, education reform, teacher education, and ultimately achieving the often ignored goals of democratic and emancipatory public education.

Recommended: Hope Against Hope, Sarah Carr

I just read and reviewed Hope against Hope: Three Schools, One City, and the Struggle to Educate America’s Children by Sarah Carr, to be released February 26, 2013. I urge you to pre-order it.

Books on education tend to be deeply misguided and self-promoting or trapped in the “miracle” school/ “no excuses” memes that also dominate flawed education reform.

Diane Ravitch’s recent and upcoming books as well as Kathleen Nolan’s Police in the Hallways are rare exceptions.

I am surprised, then, and eager to recommend Carr’s wonderful narrative of post-Katrina education reform in New Orleans, a crucible of the keynotes of the newest reform movement invested in charter schools and Teach for America.

If you are skeptical of the new reforms and frustrated with the status quo of public education’s failure to address children and neighborhoods most in need, Carr’s book is a perfect story of three people living the reality of both.

See an excerpt at The Atlantic: “The Real Reason More Low-Income Students Don’t Go to College”

While reading, I also compiled a companion reading list, below:

Police in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School, Kathleen Nolan


“More Challenges to Kirp’s ‘Miracle’ Narrative,” @ The Chalk Face, P. L. Thomas


“Final Words of Advice,” “Where Do We Go from Here?” Martin Luther King Jr. (1967)


Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom and “Multiplication Is for White People”: Raising Expectations for Other People’s Children, Lisa Delpit


“Murky Waters: The Education Debate in New Orleans,” Truthout, Adam Bessie and Dan Archer


“The Teaching Profession as a Service Industry,” Daily Censored, P. L. Thomas


“Is There a Christmas Miracle in School Reform Debate?” The Answer Sheet/The Washington Post, P. L. Thomas


“Unpacking TFA Support: Twisted Logic and Assumptions,” Schools Matter, P. L. Thomas


“Current Education Reform Perpetuating, Not Curbing, Inequity,” the becoming radical, P. L. Thomas


“Lessons from the Zombie Apocalypse,” the becoming radical, P. L. Thomas


“Reconsidering Education ‘Miracles,’” OpEdNews, P. L. Thomas


“The New Layoff Formula Project,” The Shanker Blog, Matthew Di Carlo


The Mis-Education of the Negro, Carter Woodson


“Poor Teaching for Poor Children in the Name of Reform,” Education Week, Alfie Kohn


“The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching,” Phi Delta Kappan, Martin Haberman


“’They’re All Our Children,’” AlterNet, P. L. Thomas