TEACH FOR AMERICA EXPANDING TO TULSA, BRINGING 150 DEDICATED TEACHERS TO HIGHEST-NEED SCHOOLS IN THE NEXT THREE YEARS
National Nonprofit Joins Local Effort to Expand Educational Opportunity for Students in Tulsa Public Schools
TULSA, April 21, 2009—Teach For America has announced its expansion to Tulsa this fall, outlining plans to bring at least 50 top college graduates to teach in the area’s highest-need schools for the 2009-10 school year and 50 additional teachers in each of the following two years.
“Increasing student achievement is our number-one priority at Tulsa Public Schools, and that work starts and ends with outstanding teachers,” said Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard. “Teach For America has a long track record of providing talented educators who do whatever it takes to help their students succeed. I am thrilled to welcome their corps members into our classrooms this fall.”
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for at least two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. Teach For America decided to expand to Tulsa based on the level of support from community partners, the willingness of area school districts to adopt new programs, and the potential for corps members to impact underserved students as teachers and on a broader scale as alumni. The expansion to Tulsa is part of Teach For America’s national growth plan, which calls for 7,500 corps members to be teaching in more than 33 regions by next year.
A broad coalition of community groups, local philanthropists, and the leaders of Tulsa Public Schools made Tulsa an ideal location for Teach For America. The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, and the Williams Foundation are the founding investors in Teach For America’s Tulsa site, pledging $2 million, $1 million, and $300,000, respectively. Significant support is also being provided by QuikTrip Corporation and Tulsa Public Schools.
“Every child has unlimited potential, but too many are being short-changed of the excellent education they need to succeed,” said Lynn Schusterman, founder and chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. “Teach For America will help accelerate Tulsa’s efforts to close the achievement gap once and for all, and we are proud to help bring this proven-effective organization to our hometown.”
“Teach For America is the single most important change agent to overcome the shortcomings of American elementary and secondary education,” said George Kaiser of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. “Tulsa will benefit enormously from joining the program and welcoming bright, enthusiastic, and public-oriented recent college graduates to our community.”
Teach For America will select its Tulsa corps members from a national applicant pool of more than 35,000. These applicants include 11 percent of all Ivy League seniors. The number of applications to Teach For America increased 42 percent from last year, when the organization received nearly 25,000 applications and selected 3,600 teachers.
“We are tremendously gratified by the welcome we have received from the city of Tulsa and Tulsa Public Schools,” said Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach For America. “The support of Dr. Ballard, the Tulsa School Board, the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, the George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Williams Foundation, the QuikTrip Corporation, and others throughout the community made our decision to expand to Tulsa an easy one. Working with this strong community coalition, we can build on local reform efforts by providing a new pipeline of talented teachers and education leaders for the city.”
In Oklahoma today, one in five children lives in poverty, and only 17 percent of graduates are considered college-ready. In Tulsa Public Schools, less than half of black, Latino/Hispanic, and low-income students are proficient in reading, compared with nearly 80 percent of their white peers. Only 50 percent of public school students graduate, and the average ACT scores for the majority of schools in the district are nearly seven points below the average score of students entering Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University.
A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates that Teach For America corps members are highly effective in the classroom. An Urban Institute study published in 2008 and updated this year found that high school students taught by Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers, even those taught by fully certified teachers. The positive impact of having a Teach For America teacher was three times that of having a teacher with three or more years’ experience. The updated study is available at www.caldercenter.org/upload/TFA_final_v- March-2009.pdf.
Teach For America’s existing network includes 6,200 corps members in 29 urban and rural regions and 14,400 alumni working from every professional sector to level the playing field for children and families in low-income communities. About two-thirds of Teach For America alumni remain in education, where they are starting schools, serving as principals and district administrators, and winning accolades for leading students to academic success.
About Teach For America
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit to teach for at least two years in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. This year, 6,200 corps members are teaching in over 1,600 schools in 29 regions across the country while more than 14,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity. For more information, visit www.teachforamerica.org.
Contact: Kerci Marcello Stroud
Teach For America