Teach For America is Among 150 Commitments to Improve Educational Opportunities Within Latino Communities
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2015—Teach For America has committed to recruit an additional 2,400 Latino undergraduates and professionals to teach in low-income public schools nationwide over the next three years as part of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics’ 25th anniversary call to action. At least 30 percent of those teachers will have a background in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. President Obama announced Thursday that Teach For America’s commitment is among 150 commitments launching a collective investment of nearly$340 million to build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education for the nation’s Latino community.
Today, approximately 25 percent of students in the United States identify as Latino, compared to only 8 percent of teachers. Teach For America is committed to continuing to increase diversity within the teaching profession. The national nonprofit recruits and trains new teachers to work in low-income public schools and to make a lifetime commitment to expanding educational opportunities for children. Its current teaching corps is one of the most diverse in the organization’s 25-year history: 15 percent of this year’s incoming teachers—some 600 educators—are Latino, roughly half are people of color, and about 35 percent are the first in their families to graduate from college.
“We’ve learned that great teachers come from all backgrounds, and that teachers who share the background of their students can have a profound additional impact,” said Elisa Villanueva Beard, CEO of Teach For America. “We are honored to work toward lasting partnerships with Latino national and community organizations to effectively recruit more Latino leaders into education and to better address the needs of a growing Latino student population.“
According to the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, as many as two-thirds of Hispanic children live in low-income households, which significantly impacts their access to a quality education. In America today, 9-year-olds in low-income communities are already three grade-levels behind their peers in more affluent communities; approximately half of them will not graduate from high school; and those who do graduate will do math, on average, at an eighth-grade level—if things remain the same.
"As teachers, our work involves helping young people pursue the power of education in a meaningful way that will also improve their community. That's why I decided to stay within my community of the South Bronx to teach after graduating college," says Mario Benabe, a Teach For America corps member teaching special education mathematics in New York City, just minutes away from the street where he grew up. “I want students in my community to maintain an understanding that setting high expectations, going on to college, and achieving success does not mean that they have to give up who they authentically are or where they come from.”
Similarly, Alice Niño, an elementary school teacher at Luis Muñoz Marín School in Newark, N.J., believes Latino teachers have the opportunity to be strong role models for their students, and can connect with both students and families through shared culture and language. In a classroom of 100 percent Latino students, Alice works to include their identities in daily activities, social studies classes, and, most recently, in a Guatemalan history lesson for Hispanic Heritage Month.
As a social worker, Alice witnessed first-hand the many challenges minority families have navigating life in a new culture, and she chose to become a teacher because she felt she could improve children’s opportunities through a quality education.
“Through our collaboration with the White House Initiative and many other Latino organizations nationwide, we are able to recruit young Hispanic leaders like Mario and Alice. We are committed to building a strong group of lifelong Latino leaders in education and within our communities to drive lasting change,” said Patricia Leon-Guerrero, senior managing director of Teach For America’s Latino Community Initiatives.
Teach For America provides an alternative certification path to teaching as well as training, coaching, and professional development that helps prepare corps members to become lifelong leaders in education and within their communities. To date, Teach For America has placed 4,300 Latino teachers in low-income schools nationwide.
Teach For America is currently accepting applications from undergraduates and professionals interested in a teaching career. To learn more about teaching through Teach For America visit:www.teachforamerica.org