Author's Final Manuscript
Power and Education
This article compares two neo-liberal education reform activities that are not often studied in tandem: alternative teacher certification in the USA, as explored through Teach for America, and the growing international service learning movement. Guided by the Movement for Black Lives’ call for a world where those “most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us,” the authors explore the ways in which programs’ neo-liberal justifications obscure the authority, history, and agency of the communities they purport to serve, while convincing people outside of the community that those within are benefitted. The comparisons drawn highlight the ways in which deficit orientations permeate different local and global contexts to perpetuate and normalize privatization and the wresting of control from local communities. In making this comparison, the authors aim to better understand what these programs have in common: a white supremacist world view at once unstated and pervasive, which reinforces harmful ideas about what it is to respond to the purported needs and desires of others, not expressed in their own terms. This globalization of “helping” may increase the difficulty of those targeted by such “help” to speak in their own terms.
Lesnick, Alice and Hannah Bahn 2018. "Help (not) wanted: Neo-liberal discourses of leadership against community knowledge and control in comparative context." Power and Education.