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Former Teach for America Member Says The Program Changed Her Life

Teach for America expands its reach with a thirty percent increase in the number of teachers it is providing American schools. Transcript of radio broadcast:

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Teach for America is a non-profit program that places new teachers in schools in low-income areas across the country. The teachers must remain in their positions for at least two years. About seventeen thousand college graduates have worked in the program since it began in nineteen ninety.

A student at Princeton University, Wendy Kopp, developed Teach for America as part of her college work. Money from major businesses helped make her idea a reality. Wendy Kopp still heads Teach for America. It receives support from the federal government, private businesses and individuals.

Some education experts criticize the program because its teachers get only five weeks of training before they start teaching. And they say most of the teachers do not continue teaching after two years. However, the program says most of the teachers who took part in the program are studying or working in education. And many of its former teachers have become leaders in the effort to improve education for all children.

Margery Yeager is an example of this. Mizz Yeager taught in a public school in Washington, D.C. as part of Teach for America a few years ago. She now works in the office of Michelle Rhee, the top official of the District of Columbia public schools. Mizz Yeager says Teach for America changed her life path and that of many others. She says teaching in a city school is extremely difficult and more training time is not necessarily what is needed. She says even people who move to other kinds of work continue to stay involved in education issues. Chancellor Michelle Rhee and other top officials of the D.C. school system also served in Teach for America.

Earlier studies about the success of students in Teach for America classes have been mixed. However, a recent study involved high school students in North Carolina. It found that the students of Teach for America teachers scored higher on mathematics and science tests than other students.

Working for Teach for America is extremely popular among top college graduates. The program reported an increase in applications this year from eighteen thousand to twenty-five thousand. About three thousand seven hundred new teachers were accepted. Teach for America will have about six thousand teachers in public schools across the country in the fall.

And that's the VOA Special English Education Report, written by Nancy Steinbach. I'm Barbara Klein.