Friday, April 30, 2010

So what is Teach for America?

Before I get too far along in my blog, I figured I should share a little bit about what Teach for America is so you all know the basics about the organization I am working with- our website has a ton of information all about the organization. Here's a brief explanation of what the achievement gap looks like and what we are doing to close it-

Today, across this country, 14 million children are casualties of an academic achievement gap that has made excellent public education a privilege rather than a right in too many low-income communities. If we were to follow a child from a low-income community, like the communities Teach for America serves, her academic prospects would look something like this: By the time she reached the fourth grade, she would be two to three years behind her higher income peers- not because she wasn’t as smart as her higher income peers, but simply because she wasn’t given the same opportunities in school. In high school, if she makes it to high school, she would have about a 50% chance of graduating by the time she was 18, and if she did graduate statistics tell us that she would read and perform math on an average of an 8th grade level. She would have less than a 10% chance of going on to college and receiving a diploma.

This is unacceptable! Teach for America is working relentlessly to close this achievement gap and we are doing that successfully by recruiting top college graduates from every field of study (anthropology to zoology and everything in between), and sending them into the most underserved urban and rural regions across the United States to teach with excellence for two years. In their two years, our corps members are doing incredible things. Many of our corps members are helping students make two or more years worth of academic gains in a single year! A really ambitious corps member can help his or her students make four plus years worth of gains in their two years teaching in a community. That is HUGE! That’s not just changing academic prospects, that’s changing life prospects for these young people.

Some snippets from the website :)

Why the injustice exists

  • "Children growing up in poverty face more challenges than students growing up in wealthier communities.
  • The schools these children attend lack the capacity to meet their extra needs.
  • Education policies and practices often fail to reflect the sense of urgency and the deep sense of belief that all kids can achieve at high levels when given the opportunities they deserve.

Despite this stark reality, we know that educational inequity is a solvable problem. We see evidence at all levels —in classrooms, schools, districts, and states—that students from low-income communities can and do achieve at high levels when they are given the opportunities they deserve."

Our mission and approach

"Our mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting our nation's most promising future leaders in the effort.

We recruit outstanding recent college graduates from all backgrounds and career interests to commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. We provide the training and ongoing support necessary to ensure their success as teachers in low-income communities.

Our teachers, also called corps members, go above and beyond traditional expectations to lead their students to significant academic achievement, despite the challenges of poverty and the limited capacity of the school system. In succeeding with their students, corps members show that students in low-income communities can achieve at high levels, offering further evidence that educational inequity is a solvable problem.

Yet we know that enlisting additional high-quality teachers is not the ultimate solution. We believe that the best hope for ending educational inequity is to build a massive force of leaders in all fields who have the perspective and conviction that come from teaching successfully in low-income communities.

During their two-year commitments, Teach For America corps members see firsthand that educational inequity is solvable and gain a grounded understanding of how to solve it.

Beyond these two years, Teach For America alumni bring strong leadership to all levels

of the school system and every professional sector, addressing the extra challenges facing children growing up in low-income communities, building the capacity of schools and districts, and changing the prevailing ideology through their examples and advocacy."

Our impact

"Since our inception in 1990, the Teach For America network has grown to include 24,000 individuals. Currently, some 7,300 Teach For America corps members teach in 35 urban and rural areas profoundly affected by the achievement gap. They are working extraordinarily hard to ensure that their students achieve academic success despite the inequities they face."

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