#TFA: The Intersection of Social Media and Education Reform

  • T. Jameson Brewer University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Matthew Wallis University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Keywords: Teach For America, Neoliberalism, Social Media, Twitter, Education Reform


Teach For America (TFA), a teaching not-for-profit organization that recruits and places non-certified teachers in traditionally difficult to staff schools and districts, has without doubt helped shape the growing conversation of education reform.  And while this contribution can be found in the teachers it trains and the alumni who venture into education leadership roles, it can be readily found in the realm of media, and in particular, the social media of Twitter.  This paper provides an analysis of 15,304 “tweets” that were sent by, or to TFA and its top officers as well as all “tweets” including the “hashtag” of #TFA. As an exploratory analysis of the content and audience of tweets sent by core TFA individuals and including TFA related “hashtags,” we show that TFA rarely engages with critics as it uses the media of Twitter to reinforce its reform rhetoric within its own reform coalition.  Moreover, we assert that the action of ignoring questions and counter-narratives in social media, for example, is grounded on the assumption that neoliberal educational reforms are seemingly above reproach and beyond critique.