Don't disparage Teach for America

  • Article by: JOSHUA SOSA
  • Updated: June 13, 2013 - 8:51 PM
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On Friday, the Minnesota Board of Teaching will vote on a request from Teach For America to renew a variance that streamlines the process allowing principals to hire corps members and finalize their hiring decisions.

I am a rising sophomore at Macalester College, and I was taught by TFA teachers as a high school student at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago. Without my teachers, several of whom entered the profession through TFA, I would not have been prepared for a rigorous college such as Macalester.

In my city and across the United States, only 10 percent of low-income students matriculate and graduate from a four-year college. With skilled and committed teachers, that statistic can change.
 

At Pritzker College Prep, a member of the Noble network of charter schools, more than 90 percent of students go on to attend a four-year college. My classmates and I are proof of the long-term impact TFA teachers have on students’ lives.

The teachers who taught me were not only inspired by their own passion for teaching, but also inspired a passion for learning in me and my peers.

My AP American History teacher, a TFA corps member, was a witty and passionate teacher who shaped my academic trajectory and choice of a college major. She taught history with a depth of knowledge and tremendous skill, and she sparked my own interest in political science and education policy.

She had a lifelong impact on me and on our class, instilling in all of us a deep love of learning. I hope to follow in her footsteps as a TFA corps member and have the same impact on my own students one day.

When it comes to teaching in high-need school districts like my own in Chicago, TFA teachers rise to the challenge. My high school was on turf controlled by two opposing gangs.

I remember my TFA teachers working until 7 p.m., long after school had ended. Although it was dangerous for students and teachers to walk around the neighborhood, they were willing to stay late to prepare for the next day’s lessons and to tutor students after school. Their dedication put me and other students on the path to college.

TFA selects passionate, talented individuals who commit to teach in our highest-need schools. As the Board of Teaching prepares to make its decision, and as people continue to share their thoughts on TFA, I hope my perspective will be considered.

Shouldn’t we make it easier for principals to hire the best teachers for our schools?

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Joshua Sosa is a rising sophomore at Macalester College and a member of Students for Education Reform.
 

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