The Walton Family Foundation is announcing today that it’s sending $3 million dollars to Teach for America’s New Orleans region. The grant is part of $20 million being sent to schools in low-income areas across the country.
The Teach for America program now has about 400 first- and second-year instructors in schools throughout New Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard and St. John parishes.
They’re recent college graduates who sign up for two-year terms through the non-profit teaching group.
Jack Carey, a Teach for America alumnus, is vice president of the program in greater New Orleans. He says the money announced today will fund more than 500 positions in the 2013 to 2015 school years.
“We really get to know what schools across our community need in the way of high-quality teachers," he said," and we work with them over the course of a year to understand their needs and help make great matches.”
Some educators are wary of the young newcomers. For instance, the Louisiana Federation of Teachers favors hiring veteran instructors already familiar with the community.
Carey says 80 percent of Teach for America instructors in the New Orleans region remain in classrooms or in other education positions after their two-year commitment ends.
New Orleans education advocate Karran Harper Royal says it’s not clear how many are still teachers, and how many moved on to policy and administration jobs.
“I have met a lot of TFA recruits and they’re nice people," she said. "They’re sweetheart-kind of people. I believe many of them are misguided in their efforts here because they don’t know what they’re getting into.”
The Walton Family Foundation’s latest grant will fund almost 4,000 more teachers for nine regions across the country.