January 21, 2009

Barack=Hope. (an awesome non-profit) Teach for America=Action. [video]

“The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.”

Yes, I am inspired. Especially finding out that two of my buddies were accepted into Teach for America on inauguration day.  Did you hear Obama give a shout-out to those involved with Teach for America at the Youth Ball last night? They are the Americans with the imaginations Barack was talking about, the ones who are willing to put themselves on the front lines to directly change things–not just talk about changing things. Public Education reform is a big deal in the US. Even Oprah said it!

Teach for America fights for the educational achievement gap by placing high achieving college graduates with demonstrated leadership into the nation’s poorest and most troubled school districts. They come from all backgrounds and majors and teach in these public schools for two years. Some critics think a two-year stint for an “untrained” teacher is a band-aid for a huge disease. But the beauty of this organization is in its highly selective nature. The people who get into this program are motivated, committed, but most of all, SMART. They have the intellectual capacity to take on these problems, and the fresh idealism of youth to truly believe they can make a change. 

But it’s true. Many corps members do not stay teaching after their commitment has ended. But these grads are the nation’s best and brightest and they go on to big things. Yet their experiences in the poorest neighborhoods of the country with the most abysmal school systems will forever impact their lives. If they go to law school or med school, the injustices of public education will be ingrained in their studies. If they go into the corporate or business world, they will never be able to earn a dollar without remembering those who are suffering in the land of “equal opportunity.”

When the movers and shakers of our nation have this experience under their belt, the decisions and career plans on the road ahead will be vastly impacted. I’ve recently met a friend who completed the corps, then got an MBA from Yale. He is now forming is own public education reform plan based on his diverse knowledge. Michelle Rhee, the new Chancellor of DC Schools is a Teach for America alum, and she is busting out change for the entire district. There are A LOT of reform start-ups by Teach for America alumni. 

I’m down with Teach for America. 


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Caroline Clark  |  Contribution: 510