The Making of an Educational Policy Entrepreneur: The Roles of Race, Class, and Ideology in Teach For America

In this Brown Bag seminar, Dr. Tina Trujillo discusses her research that examines the political, social, and policy dimensions of the United States’ educational program that was originally intended to place short-term teachers in under-staffed schools, Teach For America (TFA).

Tina Trujillo, UC Berkeley, is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department for Teacher Education and School Research, and Associate Professor at University of California Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education.

Read more about Dr. Trujillo.


About the seminar:

TFA, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary, is rapidly expanding around the globe by spawning international versions of its model through at least 40 spin-off organizations, including Teach For France, Teach For Sweden, Teach First (in the UK), and Teach First Norway. As TFA has evolved, so has its mission. Although it initially began as an alternative teacher preparation program, TFA maintains that it selects and prepares educational and social policy leaders. It is an organization that is situated within the rapidly growing political and ideological movement, New Public Management.

Drawing on the theoretical concept from political science known as “policy entrepreneurs” (Mintrom, 2000), Trujillo explains why and how TFA’s elite network of actors—many of whom are white and from privileged backgrounds—come to promote market-oriented, incentivist policies in the name of educational equity, rather than more democratic, welfarist ones.

She also describes an innovative methodological tool, Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), which she used to analyze 117 interviews with TFA alumni in order to pinpoint the multiple combinations of conditions that lead its recruits to support and promote incentivist policies or reforms. Specifically, she illustrates how TFA alumni’s racial and socio-economic positionality, in conjunction with their exposure to TFA’s ideological messages about educational inequality as a managerial problem in need of market-oriented solutions, lead its trainees to eventually pursue leadership positions as policy entrepreneurs.

Organizers: Department of Teacher Education and School Research and research group Curriculum Studies, Leadership and Educational Governance (CLEG) at the Faculty of Educational Sciences.

Published Apr. 14, 2016 1:02 PM - Last modified Apr. 16, 2018 12:14 PM