Teach for America Set to Debut in Northeast Ohio

More than $2 million in grants by the Cleveland, George GundNord and Stocker foundations, along with a contribution from the Lennon Trust, is set to bring Teach for America teachers to Northeast Ohio schools by the fall, writes Patrick O'Donnell at the Plain Dealer.

Mike Wang, the Teach for America vice president, said the money will pay for the national program to recruit and train highly educated college graduates who majored in subjects other than education and help them move to the area.

The money will help bring at least 30 teachers to school districts and charter schools in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties.

"We're super excited," said Wang.

"This is a big step forward for us to expand to a new region."

Due to state restrictions on teacher licenses, Teach for America has not had teachers in Ohio because they count as people with "limited training".

The state legislature finally removed those restrictions this spring with Gov. John Kasich's backing, paving the way for Teach for America to come to the state.

Helen Williams, the Cleveland Foundation's education program director, said allowing Teach For America in helps solve what she calls Ohio's "brain drain" problem.

"These are talents that are leaving our state," Williams said.

"This will keep talent here."

The education program director at the Gund Foundation, Ann Mullin, said thanks to Teach for America she expects quality teachers to now be attracted to high-need/low-performing areas like Cleveland, Lorain and inner-ring suburbs.

"It's not a cure-all for education, but it's a very much-needed innovation," she said.

Breakthrough  charter schools hopes to have 15 or more Teach for America teachers this fall as it expands to nine schools, said spokesman Lyman Millard.

Breakthrough already have teachers who taught for Teach for America in other states.

However, not everyone is keen on TFA's entrance. Sue Taylor, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, believes participants don't perform any higher academically as undergraduates than those who come through teaching colleges, calling Teach for America training "inadequate".

Taylor cites a stat that claims 80 percent of Teach for America teachers leave after three years of learning on the job.

"That doesn't serve students well," she said.

Contributions for the total grants break down as –

  • The Cleveland Foundation giving $750,000
  • The Gund Foundation giving $500,000
  • The Nord and Stocker foundations giving $450,000 each
  • The Lennon Trust giving $50,000

The grants won't be used to cover faculty costs. The schools must still pay teacher salaries and they will be required to contribute towards the training.

12 31, 2011
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