Teach For America in the Media: A Multimodal Semiotic Analysis

  • Sarah Rose Faltin Osborn University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Jessica L. Sierk University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Keywords: Neoliberalism, Teach For America, Critical Discourse Analysis, Mainstream Media, Media Studies, Education Reform, Media


Teach For America (TFA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, recruits college graduates, often from outside of the educational domain, from some of the United States’ most prestigious universities to teach for two years in low-income, oftentimes racially diverse, schools around the country.  This social semiotic approach to multimodal critical discourse analysis seeks to uncover and explore the ideologies found in the discourse surrounding TFA’s media representation. The purpose of this analysis is to describe how TFA is represented by it’s own organization and how it is represented by the media both positively and negatively, giving explicit attention to how social actors are either collectivized or individualized.  TFA’s media portrayal enables individuals who have not interacted with the organization, and also may have very little understanding of it, to form an opinion about its work and effectiveness, thus creating and reinforcing beliefs that align people for or against TFA.