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Teach For America and the Struggle for Urban School Reform

Searching for Agency in an Era of Standardization


Katy Crawford-Garrett

This book traces the experiences of one cohort of Teach For America (TFA) corps members as they reconcile their hopes for their students with the reality of teaching in a district that favors compliance over compassion. Drawing on ethnographic and practitioner inquiry methods, Crawford-Garrett highlights the voices of the teachers as they wrestle with urban poverty, question bureaucratic mandates, resist dehumanizing reform initiatives, and experiment with critical pedagogy. The book examines how their socialization into the profession positions them as passive recipients of knowledge and engenders deficit ideologies of students, families, and communities. Ultimately, this book attends to the role of the teacher educator in introducing multiple educational lenses to the corps members and asserts that the university methods course can encourage new teachers to (1) critically engage with the institutional settings which shape their experiences, (2) question and problematize deficit ideologies, and (3) adopt and enact identities as knowledgeable practitioners.
Contents: There is no single Story: Problematizing the American School Reform Narrative – The Struggling Urban District: Teach for America and School Privatization – «The Tension between Urgency and Humanity»: Confronting Factory-Style Education – «Infinite Jurisdiction»: Managing Student Achievement – In And Out Of School – «We Don’t Know How To Be Teachers»: Negotiating Knowledge And Practice In The Elementary Classroom – «A Happier, More Engaged Teacher»: The Transformative Potential Of The
Methods Classroom – Reconsidering The Possible In Urban Education: Embracing Multiple Narratives.