I was in Washington, D.C. this weekend for a Teach For America conference for Campus Campaign Managers. And just incase you don't know what Teach for America is:
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates of all academic majors who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools, and become lifelong leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunity. Our mission is to build the movement to eliminate educational inequity by enlisting some of our nation's most promising future leaders in the effort.
- In the short run, our corps members go above and beyond to ensure that more students growing up today in our nation's lowest income communities have the educational opportunities they deserve. Read more about their experiences>>
- In the long run, we build a force of leaders with the insight and credibility that comes from having taught in a low-income community. They work from education and from every other sector to effect the fundamental changes needed to ensure that all children have an equal chance in life. Read more about their impact>>
Currently, 3,500 corps members are teaching in over 1,000 schools in 22 regions across the country.
This conference was for the School Based Teams working on college campuses across the country trying to recruit teachers to the program. There were about 350 other college student Campus Campaign Managers there along with their Recruitment Directors, Recruitment Fellows, and several TFA staff, and TFA alumni who spoke to us about their amazing experiences teaching in low-income rural and urban schools for two years.
We even had Jason Kamras, a Teach For America teacher and who was named 2005 Teacher of the Year by President Bush speak to us!
Jason Kamras in front of the Capitol Dome - where I was this weekend :)
I learned so much about how to effectively publicize TFA and recruit the right kinds of college seniors to apply to teach, but most of all how important and necessary Teach For America is, and the incredible good it is doing for our country's children, our nation's future.
What a lot of people don't know is that there a HUGE achievement gap in our country between students of high-income communities and students of low-income communities.
The United States has one of the LARGEST ACHIEVEMENT GAPS IN THE WORLD save for three other industrialized nations. By the time they are 9 years old, children in low-income communities are on average 3 grade levels behind their peers in high-income communities, meaning that while they should be reading Harry Potter, they can barely get through a Sesame Street book. This ultimately causes them to be 7 times less likely to graduate from college, if children from these low-income communities are able to make it there.
Teach for America is seeking to close and eventually eliminate the achievement gap by assigning high-achieving, influencing, motivating, passionate, dedicated, creative college graduates to teach in these underachieving areas. With enthused, devoted teachers who work relentlessly to bring their students up to grade level and oftentimes beyond, we can close the achievement gap and give every child the basic right of having the opportunity to pursue his or her dreams in life.
Teach For America also has many career and grad schools benefits for you, not only through our relationships and associations, but through giving you the advantage of acquiring lifelong skills and making you a more socially-aware person, so that in whatever you choose to do after teaching, you will fully understand the problem our country is facing and work toward a solution.
If you are an outstanding college senior who wishes to change our nation through teaching for just two years after college, please APPLY ONLINE. Application deadlines are October 30, 2005 and February 17, 2006.
Learn more about Teach For America at http://www.teachforamerica.org and access answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the program as well.