Problems, Politics, and Possibilities: Imagining a Teach for America that really is for America

Erinn Brooks, Kathleen Greene


Teach for America (TFA) charges its recruits with an important mission: ensure that children in low-income communities receive an excellent education. Underlying this charge is the assumption that educational inequity is a problem that can be solved by putting the right teacher in every classroom. A former TFA corps member and an education professor combine memoir and theory to argue that TFA starts the wrong conversation about inequality and demeans traditional teachers in the process. We identify problematic aspects of TFA’s “savior model” by analyzing some of the organization’s practices and values. We also describe how TFA is rooted in neoliberal ideology and supported (both financially and politically) by the corporate education reform movement. Together, these initiatives hide the complex causes of inequality and contribute little to its resolution. We propose changes, recommending TFA better prepare corps members, cooperatively partner with existing teachers, and increase resources for schools.



Critical Pedagogy; Democracy; Teach for America; Cultural Capital; Achievement Ideology; Achievement Gap; Inequality

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education