In low-income communities in Chicago 50% of children do not graduate high school. Only 4% graduate from a four-year college.
But in the Noble Network, 90-95% of seniors -the vast majority from a low-income background- go on to college every year.
The simple truth is that we are defaulting on the promise of equal opportunity for far too many kids in Chicago and Northwest Indiana. In low-income neighborhoods of Chicago, only about 25% of third graders are able to read at grade level. This means that most students in these schools are reading picture books in the third grade. In nearby suburban Wilmette, however, 92% of third graders are meeting or exceeding grade level standards and are reading chapter books. Fast forward to young adulthood and low-income children in our schools have only a 6% chance of attending and graduating from a four-year college.
We are systematically failing to educate the vast majority of children in our city, particularly the children who rely most on our school system to give them the support and development they need to become empowered and productive members of society. We have a patchwork of systems, policies, and practices that is woefully misaligned to the goal of increasing student achievement. This threatens the long term competiveness of our city.
Our vision in Chicago is to be the catalyst for system-wide change by providing a corps of phenomenal teachers who then become leaders at all levels of the system. Today, there are over 500 corps members, more than 850 alumni teachers, 60 alumni principals, and 49 alumni assistant principals working to make this happen. At the same time, we will leverage partners to create a bold, aggressive, and comprehensive reform effort. Our ultimate goal is to grow the number of schools that are transforming students' lives in our city.
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Josh joined Teach For America in 2004 as a New York City corps member. He taught middle school English and social studies in the Hunts Point community of the southeast Bronx, and served as school team leader for a 15-member Teach For America cohort at his school. Josh joined Teach For America's staff as a recruitment director for the midwest recruitment team in 2006 and was appointed executive director of Teach For America - Chicago in February, 2007. During his tenure, the region has grown its corps from 120 to 500, its alumni teacher base from 100 to 850, and its number of alumni principals from 8 to 60.