Who Joins Teach For America and Why? Insights into the “Typical” Recruit in an Urban School District




Straubhaar, Rolf
Gottfried, Michael

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Building upon previous research on how personal and demographic characteristics of teachers are correlated with larger issues in teacher recruitment and retention, this study contributes unique insight into the personal attributes, characteristics and career aspirations of new teachers brought into teaching in Los Angeles through the Teach For America program. Drawing from ethnographic interviews with 25 current Teach For America teachers, this study finds that teachers in this sample perceive themselves as embodying personal characteristics that prior research would support as less common among teachers in urban schools: that is, they see themselves as being competitive, high-performing, and enthusiastically committed to ending educational inequality. However, these participants tend to come from privileged backgrounds and colleges and consequently view their time teaching in urban schools as an interim period before pursuing other more “high prestige” careers. Implications of these findings are discussed. Teacher



teachers, educational reform, urban education, educational policy, Counseling, Leadership, Adult Education, and School Psychology


Straubhaar, R., & Gottfried, M. (2016). Who joins Teach for America and why? Insights into the “typical” recruit in an urban school district. Education and Urban Society, 48(7), pp. 627-649.


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