Teach for America has been around for 24 years but was only given entre into Ohio’s classrooms in 2011, at the urging of Governor Kasich.
TFA teachers are chosen for being high college achievers, and are able to bypass the state’s standard licensing process.
This year’s TFA corps grew slightly over last year, and is more diverse.
190 TFA teachers – 20 more than in 2013 – are employed in two Ohio regions: 75 in the southwest in and around Cincinnati and Dayton, and 115 in the northeast in Cleveland and nearby suburbs, with teachers placed in both charter and traditional schools.
Holly Trifiro, who directs the northeast corps, says while TFA is allowed by law to place teachers anywhere in the state, it’s confined the program to those two areas.
“That’s really about our capacity ito both funding and partnerships and making sure that we’re keeping our footprint small enough that we’re able to really support the teachers we’re working with well,” Trifiro says.
New recruits this year are more diverse than last year, with 40 percent statewide identifying themselves as persons of color, compared to just 29 percent last year. Trifiro says that’s important since they work in schools with high concentrations of minority students.
Teach for America recruits’ typically don’t have teaching degrees, but are graduates in some other field and undergo an intensive five week orientation before entering the classroom.
Their selling point is that they earned top grades from good schools, and can bring that same energy and performance standard to teaching. But critics say TFA recruits lack the extensive training and experience required to manage a classroom full of kids – especially in low-performing schools in impoverished neighborhoods.