(Hartman 2012) Teach for America


Hartman, Andrew. Teach for America. Jacobin. 2012 Winter; 5:51–56. Available from: http://jacobinmag.com/winter-2012/teach-for-america/. Reposted 2013 Feb 17 at Salon with the title “Teach for America’s hidden curriculum”: http://www.salon.com/2013/02/17/the_hidden_curriculum_of_teach_for_america_partner/.

Hartman documents the history of the liberal volunteer education-reform program Teach for America (TFA), and argues that despite good intentions, its flawed assumptions have led to a disastrous undermining of the status of public school teachers and, especially, of their unions. TFA has assumed that the failings of disadvantaged children in public schools are due primarily to deficiencies in themselves and in their teachers, which can be overcome by introducing high-achieving young adults into their schools as temporary volunteer teachers, in analogy to the Peace Corps. These assumptions have led to an emphasis on Taylorist supervision of students, and on reductive, quantitative “output” measures such as standardized tests, to the detriment of the “inputs” (resources invested in their communities and schools). The critical weight placed on quantitative measures has, in turn, led to unprecedented levels of cheating and fraud.

 

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