To the Editor:
In his recent post about Teach For America on edweek.org, opinion blogger John Wilson names “Madison Avenue” and “Wall Street” among the organization’s most dedicated advocates (“More Vetoes of Teach For America Needed,” John Wilson Unleashed, June 3, 2013). As a principal in west Charlotte, N.C., I live and work far from either place. But if there’s a list of believers in the work of this organization, I want my name near the top.
Based on my experience, Teach For America is a sound public investment for North Carolina and other states. As a principal serving high-need students, nothing is more important to me than having strong leaders in my classrooms. It’s critical for me to be able to consider high-potential candidates from a wide range of proven, effective pathways.
TFA provides one important route. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified corps members as the state’s most effective early-career teachers in a report issued this past February.
Every day, our teachers from all backgrounds come together to do whatever it takes for our kids and the low-income community we serve. Many are corps members. Many others are alumni of the program who are now taking on broader leadership roles. They are master-teachers, grade-level and department chairs, and, I suspect, a few principals in the making.
Above all else, our team believes in what’s possible in public education—not for some kids, but for all. And, together, we’re proving it. Since my colleagues and I started work at Ashley Park PreK-8 School four years ago, student proficiency scores as measured by the North Carolina End-of-Grade Test have increased across the board—65 percentage points in science, 31 in math, 30 in reading. In this, TFA has been key.
I don’t envy the difficult decisions legislators must make about where to direct resources in tough times. But I do know what it takes to get kids career- and college-ready, and I believe that Teach For America deserves support.
Ashley Park PreK-8 School
A version of this article appeared in the July 11, 2013 edition of Education Week as TFA Plays a Crucial, ‘Effective’ Role