“I want to do Teach for America, not become a teacher.”

Mark Stern, D. Kay Johnston


It’s common to hear a student say, “I want to do Teach for America (TFA), not become a teacher.”  Though the implied terse sentiment about teaching is something we increasingly hear on our liberal arts campus, the way students articulate and emphasize a difference between doing and becoming is telling. In this paper, we focus on how TFA has and continues to compromise the way many think about K-12 education and teacher education programs.  Specifically, we seek to highlight the contradictions between the way TFA trains teachers (doing) and the role the liberal arts can play in teacher education programs (becoming). As many of TFA corps members come from liberal arts campuses, articulating these contradictions is important so that we are able to speak back to the allure of TFA and popular narratives about teaching/education.


Teach for America; Teacher Education; Education Policy; Alternative Certification

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ISSN 1920-4175 Critical Education