Teach for America returns to Detroit

Teach For America has announced it will return to Detroit, bringing 100 top college graduates to teach in some of the state’s highest-need schools for the 2010-11 school year. The Teach For America teachers will apply for open positions in Detroit Public Schools and area charter schools.

About 20-30 teachers will come to DPS.

“We continually seek partnerships with strong organizations like Teach For America that can bring value to our children. We look forward to a successful partnership and will do all we can to make sure it is a lasting one,” said Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief academic and accountability auditor for Detroit Public Schools.

Teach For America is the national corps of top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. Teach For America’s Detroit corps members are part of a national corps selected from an applicant pool of more than 46,000.

Among these applicants were 12 percent of all Ivy League seniors and more than 1,300 individuals from across Michigan, including 7 percent of the senior class at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, 3 percent of seniors at Michigan State and 20 percent of seniors at Kalamazoo College. The University of Michigan-Ann Arbor was the top producer of Teach For America corps members in 2009.

“We’re excited to return to Detroit and join the innovative efforts of leaders across the city to expand educational opportunity for all children,” said Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America. “We are inspired by the leadership of Governor Granholm, the United Way of Southeastern Michigan, and the Skillman Foundation, and are tremendously grateful for the support from district and school leaders, community groups, and local philanthropists in Detroit.”

Teach For America previously placed teachers in Detroit schools from 2001-2003 and will return this coming school year amid widespread community support. The organization selected Detroit, one of four expansion sites for the coming school year, due to remarkable community leadership, an innovative vision for closing the academic achievement gap, and the city’s commitment to ensure Teach For America’s presence can be sustained over time. Teach For America corps members in Detroit will apply for open positions in high-needs subjects and schools and will be considered alongside other new teacher candidates.

“I am pleased to welcome Teach For America to Michigan. The leadership that this organization provides, by recruiting talented teachers for high-need classrooms, is critical to the economic viability of Detroit and the academic and life success of our state’s future generation of leaders,” said Governor Jennifer M. Granholm.

“Teach For America’s expansion to Detroit will bring great teachers to our city’s most challenging classrooms and change the trajectory for underserved students, which is a top priority of the new citywide Excellent Schools Detroit Coalition,” said Tonya Allen, vice president of program for The Skillman Foundation. “We are proud to support this effective program that is helping to build good schools and strong leaders who set high standards and shape students for success both in and out of the classroom.”

Teach For America’s local university partner will be the University of Michigan. All Teach For America corps members in Detroit will enroll at the university to obtain their state teaching certification.

Teach For America selected the University of Michigan due to its history of fostering innovation in education and its focus on preparing teachers for urban schools.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with Teach For America,” said Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan. “We are committed not only to improving educational outcomes for children in Detroit but to transforming our system for preparing and licensing teachers in this country. This partnership will allow us to work with our colleagues at Teach For America to develop and study effective approaches to preparing and assessing teachers. Our program for Teach For America-Detroit corps members will be part of the Teacher Education Initiative, our effort to redesign teacher education–from undergraduate to master’s and now alternative route programs–so that it is more focused on practice, and to build materials and tools that will serve the field broadly.”

A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates that Teach For America corps members are highly effective in the classroom. An Urban Institute study published in 2008 and updated in 2009 found that high school students taught by Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers, even those taught by fully certified teachers. The updated study is available at www.caldercenter.org/upload/TFA_final_v-March-2009.pdf.

Teach For America’s network currently includes more than 7,300 corps members in 35 regions and 17,000 alumni across the country working from every professional sector to level the playing field for children and families in low-income communities. Detroit is home to some 215 Teach For America alumni. Nationally, about two-thirds of Teach For America alumni remain in education, where they are starting schools, serving as principals and district administrators, and winning accolades in the classroom, including the 2007 teacher of the year awards in two states and the 2005 National Teacher of the Year Award.

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