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ERIC Number: EJ914920
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 21
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0737-5328
Teach for America and the Politics of Progressive Neoliberalism
Lahann, Randall; Reagan, Emilie Mitescu
Teacher Education Quarterly, v38 n1 p7-27 Win 2011
Teach for America (TFA), a non-profit organization designed to recruit recent college graduates to commit two years to teach in understaffed urban and rural schools across the country, has been heralded by private organizations and state agencies as a poster child for alternative pathways to teaching. However, at the same time, TFA has also been criticized for its conceptions of teaching and teacher education and for its impact on student learning in urban and rural schools across the country. Although numerous studies have examined the effectiveness of TFA teachers on student learning, conclusions as to the program's efficacy remain contested. The purpose of this article is to problematize TFA's intentions by situating its political philosophy in the larger context of neoliberal educational reform. To do so, the authors analyze TFA's explicit use of the language of business and appropriation of corporate culture in its pursuit of more equitable public education. They begin this article with a discussion of neoliberal education reform, focusing in particular on the field of teacher education. Next, they examine the criticisms of neoliberalism as a suitable political philosophy for education. They then investigate the often uneasy alliances among a diverse set of actors, all of whom have agendas that benefit from neoliberal policy to some degree; in particular, they explore a political space that exists for neoliberals who challenge some elements of conservatism and align themselves with progressive goals. They identify this space as "progressive neoliberalism," and chart the concept in terms of five shared assumptions. They examine TFA's policies and practices, classifying it as a progressive neoliberal organization and critiquing it in terms of its potential to further neoliberal policy in public education. Finally, they provide implications for TFA and the field of teacher education. (Contains 2 tables and 5 notes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A