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Teachers as Grantseekers: The Privatization of the Urban Public School Teacher

by Sara Freedman - 2000

This article explores the impact of grantseeking on urban public school teachers. It first analyzes how grantseeking, primarily but not exclusively promoted by numerous private and corporate foundations, has introduced urban teachers to and fostered among them some of the central tenets of the movement to privatize education - to “market” one’s teaching as a product and oneself as a valuable commodity; to embrace competition and the creation of self-selected communities; and to replace a commitment to a broad-based democracy in which the needs of all are met with fulfilling the needs of the “deserving” few.

The article next discusses the ways in which specific assumptions about urban teachers have influenced the development of such grant competitions. It also discusses the ways these assumptions promote the ability of a very limited number of high status urban teachers to successfully compete in such competitions while working to exclude others, particularly teachers of color and those whose native language is not English.

The article then presents a case history of one grantseeker to illustrate the contradictory effects of teachers’ participation in privately funded grant programs. It ends by raising questions about the purpose and effect of grantseeking in education and its potential role in changing the dominant means of educating children in the United States from a public school system subject to community wide support and governance--in theory if not in practice--to an increasingly privatized one.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 102 Number 2, 2000, p. 398-441
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10432, Date Accessed: 9/23/2021 7:02:25 AM

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About the Author
  • Sara Freedman
    Boston College
    E-mail Author
    Sara Freedman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Teacher Education/Special Education and Curriculum & Instruction at the School of Education of Boston College. Her areas of specialization include the history of urban school desegregation; the political economy of schooling; the retention and academic success of urban students of color in non-elite white majority institutions of higher education; and program evaluation. Recent publications include “Charter Schools: An Overview” in Radical Teacher, and “The Lure of Privatization: Public School Teachers Seeking Private Funds” in Discourse.
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