Local Teach For America Corps, Supporting Efforts to Raise Student Achievement Levels, More Than Doubles in Size

For Immediate Release

Contact: Rebecca Neale | Teach For America
(202) 906-9207 | rebecca.neale@teachforamerica.org

MINNEAPOLIS, May 24, 2010—Teach For America announced today that 50 of the organization’s new teachers will come to the Twin Cities this fall to teach in some of the highest-need public schools. These local teachers are among more than 4,500 new corps members nationwide, the largest incoming corps in the organization’s 20-year history. They were chosen through a highly selective process that attracted a record 46,000 applicants.

“I am pleased to welcome another corps of Teach For America teachers to our classrooms this fall. The leadership and dedication of these teachers is key to our efforts to prepare all of our scholars to succeed in college and beyond,” said Shannon Blankenship, school leader at Hiawatha Leadership Academy in south Minneapolis.

At more than 120 colleges and universities, more than 5 percent of the senior class applied to Teach For America, including 12 percent of all seniors at Ivy League universities and 11 percent of the senior class at Macalester College. The applicant pool also included 225 graduating seniors from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

“Teach For America attracts the best and brightest graduates, who as teachers are effective in raising student achievement among at-risk student populations. We believe the key to improved opportunities for all students centers on teacher quality, and we embrace Teach For America as a talent source school districts can rely on to ensure that every student receives the best opportunity to succeed in our 21st-century knowledge economy,” said David Etzwiler, executive director of the Medtronic Foundation.

Teach For America began placing teachers in Twin Cities classrooms during the 2009-10 school year. The 50 new teachers will more than double the size of Teach For America’s Twin Cities corps, allowing it to reach an additional 3,000 students. In the absence of robust alternative teacher- licensing in the state, Twin Cities corps members obtain temporary certification to complete their teaching commitment.

“We are thrilled to expand the impact of our effective teachers in the lives of underserved Twin Cities kids by welcoming our second corps of teachers,” said Daniel Sellers, executive director of Teach For America in the Twin Cities. “These 50 new teachers will join our current corps members and alumni, who work tirelessly to improve the odds for local students. We remain hopeful that the Minnesota legislature will move forward to pass real alternative teacher-certification legislation so that our corps members can help close the state’s achievement gap and continue to make a difference in the lives of Twin Cities students for generations to come.”

Teach For America, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, will place more than 8,200 first- and second-year corps members in 39 regions across the country this fall.

This year’s incoming corps members have an average GPA of 3.6 and 89 percent held a significant leadership position. The fastest-growing segments of the corps are graduate students and professionals seeking to have an immediate impact in education. Twenty-eight percent of incoming corps members received Pell Grants. Almost one-third are people of color, including 7 percent who are Hispanic and 11 percent who are African American, which is more than double the percentage of African American graduates at the colleges where Teach For America primarily recruits.

“Teach For America corps members help deliver the high-quality education that every Minnesota child deserves, but that, tragically, far too few low-income children of color receive. Across the country, schools are leading these students—those most at risk—to achieve remarkable academic success. We can and must replicate this success in Minnesota, and I believe Teach For America can help us realize this dream for all of our students,” said Sondra Samuels, president of the PEACE Foundation.

A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates the effectiveness of Teach For America teachers. A new study from the University of North Carolina compares the effects on student achievement of graduates from the UNC teacher-preparation system with teachers from other pathways, including Teach For America. At every grade level and subject studied, students taught by Teach For America corps members did as well as or better than those taught by traditionally prepared UNC graduates. Middle school math students of Teach For America teachers received the equivalent of an extra half-year of learning.

Teach For America’s track record of achieving results for students has earned the organization support from a wide range of political and community leaders across Minnesota. “Nothing is more important to the future of this country than education,” Congressman Keith Ellison said. “Bringing these new Teach For America teachers to the Twin Cities this fall is win-win for everyone. Fifth District students can learn to succeed, and young people can give back to communities. The collaboration will help our students fulfill their potential and will help attract young, new talent to Minnesota. Together we can prepare to compete in the global economy.”

The new corps members in the Twin Cities will join more than 175 Teach For America alumni in the area who are working from within education and every other professional sector to expand opportunities for students and families in low-income communities. Of the 20,000-plus Teach For America alumni nationwide, two-thirds remain in education, including 450 who are school principals or superintendents.

About Teach For America
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. This fall, more than 8,200 corps members will be teaching in 39 regions across the country, while more than 20,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org