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Teach For America Counter-Narratives

Alumni Speak Up and Speak Out


Edited By Jameson T. Brewer and Kathleen deMarrais

In its twenty-five years of existence, Teach For America (TFA) has transformed from an organization based on a perceived need to ameliorate a national teacher shortage to an organization that seeks to systematically replace traditional fully-certified teachers while simultaneously producing alumni who are interested in facilitating neoliberal education reform through elected political positions. From its inception, TFA has had its share of critics; yet criticism of the organization by its own members and alumni has largely been silenced and relegated to the margins.
This book – the first of its kind – provides alumni of TFA with the opportunity to share their insight on the organization. And perhaps more importantly, this collection of counter-narratives serves as a testament that many of the claims made by TFA are, in fact, myths that ultimately hurt teachers and students. No longer will alumni voices be silenced in the name of corporate and neoliberal education reform.
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Chapter Twenty: The Grandfather of Alumni TFA Critics



The Grandfather of Alumni TFA Critics

GARY RUBINSTEIN Houston, 1991–1993


Gary Rubinstein was a member of the second cohort of TFA in 1991. He taught in Houston for 4 years, Denver for 1 year, and New York City for 11 years. He has also written two books about teaching, Reluctant Disciplinarian and Beyond Survival. Gary has been offering “constructive criticism” to TFA for over 20 years. He hopes that one day TFA will listen to him. He lives in New York City with his wife, Erica, and his two children, Sarah and Sam.


Excerpt from my blog (4/30/2013 “The Three Biggest TFA Lies”):

The biggest problem with TFA is all the lying. Though the individual people I’ve known on staff aren’t huge liars, themselves, the sum of all the lies add up to an organization whose lying is pathological. Really, they’ve elevated the art of lying to new heights, much the way Mozart elevated the concerto. Even people like Bernie Madoff who thought they were great liars can’t help but marvel at TFA’s techniques. ← 205 | 206 →

The lies began innocuous enough. They were just part of their PR, part of their advertising and fund raising efforts. Other lies they didn’t even realize were lies until they were too embroiled in them, and still other lies they still don’t seem to realize are untrue. If I could change one thing...

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