Two decades ago, a young Princeton University undergraduate student proposed an “audacious idea” as part of her thesis: to create a grassroots organization devoted to education reform by recruiting the best and brightest college students to teach in America’s most challenged classrooms.
Today, Wendy Kopp is recognized by Time Magazine as one the world’s most influential people, and Teach For America (TFA) has become one of the nation’s largest providers of teachers for lower-income communities, including Baltimore City.
My administration is committed to investing in effective and innovative programs that support Dr. Andres Alonso’s reform efforts in Baltimore City Public Schools. This year, despite a record $121 budget deficit, we fully funded our obligation to the school system and effective after-school programs. We restored funding for advanced school-based health centers and maintained funding for our world-class library system to promote lifelong learning. We doubled Baltimore’s contribution to Teach For America. Even in tough times, funding public safety and public education comes first. We must be bold enough to invest in innovation, which costs more today but will pay dividends in the long run.
Baltimore is making great progress improving academic achievement. Over the past 7 years, Maryland Student Assessment (MSA) test scores have improved in almost every grade. Increasingly, elementary and middle school students are not just scoring ‘proficient’ but are scoring ‘advanced’ in both reading and math. This year, overall achievement on the math MSA test has reached its highest level ever. The gap between elementary and middle school achievement is getting smaller.
Teach For America has become an integral part of Baltimore’s Public Schools renaissance and continues to serve as a powerful catalyst for educational equity. Since 1992, City Schools has contracted with TFA to recruit, select, and train new teachers. Over the past two years, City Schools has doubled the cohort size by hiring 163 TFA teachers. Today, there are a total of 417 TFA teachers in our most challenging classrooms, and eleven TFA teachers have become principals.
Earlier this month, Teach For America released a new impact video, which highlights the success of Baltimore Public Schools and other school systems that have partnered with Teach for America. The video features national leaders in education reform, including our own Dr. Alonso, and Baltimore teachers and principals that are innovating in the classroom everyday. As the new school year begins, I want to share Baltimore City Public School System’s ongoing success story with you. Watch the video for an inspiring look at Teach For America’s impact.