The dominant woldview of Teach for America, along with the most popular charter school chains - Success Academices, K.I.P.P., Uncommon Schools etc- implies that low income communities are "toxic" and that for young people in them to succeed, they must be insulated from all surrounding cultural influences and choose as role models and institutions to aspire to people and places far away from where they live. That is why such programs actually prefer teachers who have no connection with the communities they live im, teach for a short time, and concentrate on drilling students for tests whose symbols and cultural references have no connection to the neighborhoods students actually live in. It is also why these programs and schools promote draconian behavior codes which lead to the massive expulsion of rebellious or non-conforming students and families.
To challenge these programs and institutions effectively, we must challenge their worldview as well as their pedagogy and educational philosophy
Here are a couple of questions that might guide this
First, are low income families any more "toxic" in terms of values and impact than the hedge fund managers and real estate developers who fund charters and TFA who have monopolized obscene portions of the nation's wealth while promoting policies that lower wages, cut government budgets and promote gentrification of neighborhoods
Second, does regarding local communities as "the enemy" prevent you from incorporating valuable cultural resources into the school culture, ranging from music, to historical knowledge, to traditions of heroism and resiliance, that might make school communities more joyous and nurturing and inspiring places
Third, does the massive expulsion of non conforming students and families, along with the preference for short term teachers from outside, rather than teachers for life from the communities schools are located in, divide neighborhoods vulnerable to real estate speculation and displacement and prevent them from uniting to defend their children from abusive police practices, the drug war, and other policies which marginalize and stigmatize young people of color
We owe it to our children, all children, to ask these tough questions