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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 Seven: Teach For America, Neoliberalism, and the Effect on Special Education



Teach For America, Neoliberalism, and the Effect on Special Education

IAN SCOTT Los Angeles, 2011–2013


Ian Scott is a Ph.D. student in the program on education policy and social outcomes at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests center on the impact of incentivist and market-based education reforms on special education programs and access to mental health services in schools. His work attempts to answer broader questions about how social perceptions of difference are legislated, problems of distributional politics, and the political economy of education. Ian also works with the Chicago Anti-Violence Education program of the Education Justice Project at the University of Illinois and Danville Correctional Center. Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, Ian worked as a resource specialist teacher in South Los Angeles, initially placed through Teach For America. He holds a M.A. in special education from Loyola Marymount University and a B.A. in political science from UC Berkeley.


The first Individualized Education Plan (IEP) deadlines of the school year were approaching rapidly—I had just 3 weeks to develop learning plans for multiple students with disabilities; these would highlight accommodations and strategies ← 73 | 74 → based on each child’s individual needs that teachers could use to successfully include those students in their general education classrooms. There was just one problem: I had almost no training on how to do this. From the first day of teaching, it was uncomfortably...

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