Teach for America is expanding in Alabama. The Teach for America program recruits top college graduates to teach for at least two years in low-income public schools across the nation. In Alabama, the program began with 30 teachers working in the Black Belt in 2010, and has expanded to place over 70 teachers in schools in the Black Belt, Tuscaloosa, Birmingham, and Huntsville in 2011. Beginning in 2012, Teach For America will expand its efforts to include the Montgomery County Schools, and increase the number of teachers in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa.
Teach for America hires some of the nation’s top graduates to teach in public schools. According to Teach for America press releases, almost 48,000 people applied to become Teach for America corps members last year, and only 11% were accepted. More than two thirds of Teach for America corps members remain in education after the end of their two-year service period, and many become principals and superintendents. “Individuals selected to serve for Teach for America are leaders working to make a lasting impact on others,” said Alabama’s Second District U.S. Representative Martha Roby.
Teach for America graduates have a proven track record of promoting student achievement in urban and rural schools. A recent study from Tennessee found that the average student in a Teach for America corps member’s classroom outperforms the average student in a new non-corps member’s classroom in every subject area. Studies in Louisiana and North Carolina also found similar results.
In 2010, Teach For America began its inaugural year in Alabama originally by placing teachers in Hale, Lowndes, Marengo, Perry, and Sumter counties, and Selma. This year, over 70 Teach for America teachers impact 5,000 students across the Black Belt region, and in Tuscaloosa and Birmingham.
Inspired by the program’s success in rural Alabama, many of the state’s urban centers are considering forming contracts with Teach for America as well. Last month, the Huntsville Times reported that the Huntsville school board had voted 4-1 to partner with Teach for America to bring at least 30 teachers in 2012, and at least 40 teachers per year beginning in 2013 to the Huntsville City Schools. Additionally, the Montgomery County school board recently voted 5-1-1 to bring at least 15 teachers per year to the Montgomery County school system over the next 3 years.
Teach for America Executive Director J.W. Carpenter is excited about the possibility of coming to Montgomery. “We are very excited about partnering with the Montgomery County schools,” said Carpenter. Speaking to the Montgomery Advertiser, he said “Students are capable of doing great work and becoming great leaders and they just need help. I believe Teach for America teachers can be one source of great talent for the classroom.”