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Teach for (which) America? The Politics of the Moral Discourse of Teach for America

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Abstract:

This paper examines the politics of the moral discourse associated with Teach for America (TFA). TFA is a nonprofit organization that recruits and trains non-education majoring college graduates, or “corps members,” to teach at schools in low income communities in the United States for two years. There is no evidence that TFA is more successful at raising student test scores than traditionally trained career teachers. Instead it provides a steady stream of inexperienced corps members who regularly perform worse than more experienced teachers. Yet, prominent professional schools and corporations place high value on TFA experience. They regularly offer deferments and recruit former corps members to fill their ranks. Thus, TFA has become a program that effectively benefits corps members more than the students it purportedly aims to help. I argue that the moral discourse used in the claiming and conferring of the value of TFA experience permits this to happen. First, the value of TFA experience is framed exclusively in terms of what it represents about corps members as ethical subjects rather than on the success of the program itself. Second, the value of TFA experience only benefits corps members when they leave the classroom. This ensures that TFA continually provides novice, and therefore less effective teachers to the schools it serves. I argue, therefore, that the moral discourse used to claim the value of TFA experience reproduces the conditions that permit TFA to benefit corps members but not the disadvantaged students in the low income schools.
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Name: American Sociological Association Annual Meeting
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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252959_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Foley, Benjamin. "Teach for (which) America? The Politics of the Moral Discourse of Teach for America" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Montreal, Canada, Aug 12, 2017 <Not Available>. 2018-07-04 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252959_index.html>

APA Citation:

Foley, B. R. , 2017-08-12 "Teach for (which) America? The Politics of the Moral Discourse of Teach for America" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association Annual Meeting, Palais des Congrès de Montréal, Montreal, Canada Online <APPLICATION/PDF>. 2018-07-04 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1252959_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper examines the politics of the moral discourse associated with Teach for America (TFA). TFA is a nonprofit organization that recruits and trains non-education majoring college graduates, or “corps members,” to teach at schools in low income communities in the United States for two years. There is no evidence that TFA is more successful at raising student test scores than traditionally trained career teachers. Instead it provides a steady stream of inexperienced corps members who regularly perform worse than more experienced teachers. Yet, prominent professional schools and corporations place high value on TFA experience. They regularly offer deferments and recruit former corps members to fill their ranks. Thus, TFA has become a program that effectively benefits corps members more than the students it purportedly aims to help. I argue that the moral discourse used in the claiming and conferring of the value of TFA experience permits this to happen. First, the value of TFA experience is framed exclusively in terms of what it represents about corps members as ethical subjects rather than on the success of the program itself. Second, the value of TFA experience only benefits corps members when they leave the classroom. This ensures that TFA continually provides novice, and therefore less effective teachers to the schools it serves. I argue, therefore, that the moral discourse used to claim the value of TFA experience reproduces the conditions that permit TFA to benefit corps members but not the disadvantaged students in the low income schools.


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Religion and Politics in America: Moral Issues and Questions after the 2004 Presidential Election

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National Service & Women's Political Ambition: The Case of Teach For America


 
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