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Reduction in Teach for America members working in LA this year

Craig Clough | August 12, 2015

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teach-for-america-newsTeach For America–Los Angeles announced today that 80 instructors from its program will be working at schools in the Los Angeles area this year, a 20 percent reduction from last year.

The reduced numbers are directly related to the nationwide teacher shortage, something Teach for America is also experiencing.

“I think what we are seeing is yes, there are just fewer teachers in the pipeline, no matter what the pipeline is, whether you are looking at traditional teacher colleges or if you are looking at alternative pathways, the numbers are down both places,” Kathryn Phillips, a spokesperson with Teach for America, told LA School Report.

The organization received over 44,000 applications for the 2015-2016 school year, but last year received just over 50,000 applications.

Teach for America is a nonprofit that recruits recent college graduates to teach for two years in low-income schools across the country. It has proven to be somewhat controversial due to its close ties to charter schools and what critics say is an inadequate level of preparation it gives its teachers, who receive no more than a few weeks of training. And due to the two-year commitment, critics say the organization contributes to high turnover rates at struggling schools.

The 80 new Teach for America recruits join 100 that are entering their second year in the LA area. They will be spread around, working at traditional schools, nonprofit partner schools like L.A.’s Promise and Partnership for Los Angeles Schools and charters, including Alliance College-Ready Public Schools. Phillips said of the 180 “corps members” in the LA region this fall, 50 will be with LA Unified and Lynwood Unified, 127 at charter schools and three in early childhood schools.

“Teach For America–Los Angeles has been a terrific partner for Alliance, helping us attract great talent for Alliance schools. We continue to look to Teach For America and its alumni network for quality teachers and principals who can deliver the best education for their students,” said Dan Katzir, CEO and president of Alliance, in a statement.

This year’s group of new Teach for America-Los Angeles members were touted as the most diverse yet, with 85 percent of the incoming members identifying as people of color and more than half identifying as Latino.

“We’re not necessarily targeting Latinos, but we are definitely looking for people who are very talented and demonstrated perseverance and an ability to overcome challenges, and a commitment to social justice,” Phillips said. “We’ve seen people of color are strongly tied to those qualifiers.”


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