as numerous TFA alums and professionals have made it increasingly clear, rather than fighting inequality, TFA actually promotes it. Despite its image as a social justice organization, TFA not only does a disservice to the students and schools it purports to serve, but also acts as a political force in its own right to push a vision of public schooling that further damages an already broken education system.
Some of the campaign involves soliciting first-person accounts of experiences with TFA, there’s also a twitter has tag – #ResistTFA . The campaign in turn gets written up in blogs that provide links to reports on particular instances — such as this one in Newark that draws on Broad Foundation emails to argue the linkages between charterization & TFA (the state-appointed school superintendent there is a TFA Alumus).
I draw attention to this not only because of TFAs uses here in Ohio (there is an Ohio State “Chapter” of SUPE listed) — and my agreement with critics that it’s a bad approach to reform, basically a method to facilitate the introduction of charter schools and the destruction of teachers’ unions — but because it raises questions about the role of the internet in educational activism and protest.
In a general way this has been an issue since 2011 and the Egyptian revolution. The specific relevance in this case is the problem of right-wing movements that have found ways to mobilize privatization agendas across state (and national) boundaries (through Foundations, the Common Core, federal policy, ALEC, and so on — when in many respects schooling and teacher organization remains “localized” to particular school districts, and anchored in states. There are some exemplary experiments to re-scale opposition — for example, the Teacher Solidarity web portal — but the questions remain. One skeptic Evgeny Morozov’s RSA Animate on “The internet in society: Empowering or censoring citizens?” — You can also find a longer audio podcast of a London School of Economics lecture . The point he’s making is that for many people internet participation in movements is substituting for the necessary embodied work on the ground. In a contrasting view, another podcast, this by Francesca Polletta — the article she’s referring to, “Is the Internet Creating New Reasons to Protest” (can be found and downloaded from the OSU library if you have access) — argues that the internet’s key use is in generating a ‘demand’ for activism — making people aware of what’s going on and rousing them to engagement. There’s also Jodi Dean’s work on ‘communicative capitalism‘ which suggests that the internet provides a kind of pseudo-voice– a means of shouting out in a medium in which no one has to pay attention (get the power first, Alinskians would say, then expect people to listen to you).