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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Welcome to the Berkeley Review of Education, a peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal published online and edited by students from the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley Review of Education engages issues of educational diversity and equity within cognitive, developmental, sociohistorical, linguistic, and cultural contexts. The BRE encourages submissions on research and theory from senior and emerging scholars, practitioners, and policy-makers. To submit a paper, please click on "Submit article to this journal" in the side bar.

Spring/Summer 2018

Editors' Introduction

Editors' Introduction

Introduction to Volume 7, Issue 2.


Legitimizing the Dilettante: Teach For America and the Allure of Ed Cred

Teach For America (TFA) corps members, in reflecting on their experiences, have described their motivations to join the program as idealistic, ambitious, and “profound drives to effect educational change” (Crawford-Garrett, 2012, p. 27) that eventually had to be reconciled with unexpected, harsh realities—both in their placement schools and in the TFA program itself. Matsui (2015) argues that popular culture is the source of this unrealistic idealism about teaching. This hero teacher narrative is a familiar theme in films such as Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and Freedom Writers, as well as in documentaries such as Waiting for Superman and The Lottery, some of which feature TFA teachers. TFA taps into this vein of popular idealism in its recruitment efforts. This post-intentional phenomenological study sought instances of the hero teacher narrative in the beliefs and motivations of TFA applicants and pre-service corps members—not as post-service reflections, as with many counternarratives, but in pre-service interviews, before conceptions of their initial intentions could be reconstructed by considering actual experiences. Findings suggest that TFA applicants may be pursuing ed cred, a unique conceptualization of legitimacy that blends the competence of professional mystique and the competitive hero teacher narrative with three new experiential variations: the drive for credibility, preference for convenience, and need for a credential. Implications for policy and leadership are discussed.


Using Ethnography to Understand How Policy Reform Influences the Transfer Process at One Community College

A critical function of community college is providing students with pathways to a bachelor’s degree through transfer. Although students hold high aspirations of transferring, their rates of success are extremely low. In California, policymakers have used legislation as a primary mechanism of addressing transfer inefficiencies in the state’s tiered higher education system. This article explores the ways that recent state-level reform policy SB-1440 (Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, 2010)—intended to streamline the transfer process through Associate Degrees for Transfer—affected existing practices, practitioners, and transfer-seeking students at one community college. Employing an ethnographic approach, this study highlights the interaction between the existing context and policy mandates that reshape campus transfer culture. The findings indicate that, although the transfer policy reform was intended to improve transfer pathways for students, there was a disconnect between students’ aspirations and the state higher education institutions accepting these Associate Degrees for Transfer. Additionally, there was a misalignment between campus practitioners’ efforts to implement transfer reform and students’ awareness of improvements. To compensate for this disconnect, students formed a student counter-space. These findings suggest the need for transformative higher education policy, built upon concepts of transfer infrastructure, to improve college opportunities and outcomes for students across the state.

Constructing the Literate Child in the Library: An Analysis of School Library Standards

I examine one set of elementary school library standards (New York City School Library System, n.d.) in an effort to analyze the impact that the standards might have on literacy experiences for young children in one urban school setting. Employing a critical discourse analysis framework, I examine the language that the Empire State Information Fluency Continuum uses to privilege certain kinds of knowledge construction. Focusing on the descriptions of knowledge, inquiry, and informational literacy constructed by the standards, I argue that the Information Fluency Continuum perpetuates notions of literacy and inquiry that are linear and hierarchical. I argue that educator conceptions of inquiry, engagements with texts, and social responsibility practices must be widened. Rather than expecting students to follow a sequential set of steps, libraries might be a space where students are given agency to decide when and how they would engage in literacy and pursue inquiries.