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“Teach For America: Civic Engagement Magic Bullet?”

Su Jin Jez, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Sacramento State
Jul 19, 2017 from 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM (America/Los_Angeles / UTC-700)
1130 K Street, Room LL3
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Brooke Miller-Jacobs
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Teach for America (TFA) recruits and trains individuals to teach in low-income schools for two years. TFA estimates that 69% of its alumni work in education and 83% work in fields that impact education to low-income communities. Professor Jez asks; can TFA (and similar programs) help its participants develop higher levels of civic engagement? TFA teachers differ from other educators because they are most likely interested in educational equity, so one would expect to see high levels of engagement among TFA participants in careers related to this after their two-year commitment is over. But given individuals who participate in TFA are already interested in educational equity, does participating in TFA make them more civically engaged? Professor Jez reveals that TFA alumni, when compared to similar individuals, were not statistically more likely to be engaged in civic or political activity, work in pro-social careers, or hold politically idealistic views. TFA does, however, positively impact participants’ traits on civically important factors, such as unconscious racial tolerance, belief that poor children are able to compete with rich children, and that the educational achievement gap is solvable. Su Jin Gatlin Jez is an Associate Professor of Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento. She is also a Faculty Associate with the EdInsights. Through her teaching, scholarship, and service, Dr. Jez aims to strengthen student access, persistence, and success in postsecondary education, particularly for traditionally underserved students. She works with schools, universities, governmental agencies, nonprofits, and foundations to improve programs and policies that create and support pathways for all students to achieve their postsecondary educational goals. Prior to joining Sac State in 2009, Dr. Jez was a Research Associate at WestEd where a significant amount of her research and technical assistance work was focused on early college schools and community colleges. She continues to work Jez Photowith WestEd on various policy-relevant efforts. She currently serves on the Leadership Board for the Sponsors for Educational Opportunity's (SEO) San Francisco Bay Area AlumniChapter. Dr. Jez received a BA in statistics, with a minor in public policy, from UC Berkeley, and an MA in economics and a PhD in administration and policy analysis from Stanford University.

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