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Legislation to allow Teach for America to come into Virginia passes
GOV. McDONNELL'S proposal to change teacher certification requirements to allow Teach for America into the state has sailed through the General Assembly unopposed--good news for students in some disadvantaged areas.
TFA is a nonprofit founded in 1990. It takes recent college graduates and professionals looking for a career change, runs them through a "boot camp," and places them as teachers in hard-to-staff schools with a two-year commitment. The program is popular: This school year, more than 48,000 people applied for 5,800 slots; two-thirds of TFA alumni remain involved in education.
Unfortunately, current state teacher requirements don't recognize TFA's training as valid for certification. The legislation pushed by Mr. McDonnell would change that.
More than 300 graduates of Virginia universities are enrolled in TFA, but they are teaching in other states. The new bill would stop that brain drain, allowing Virginia grads who wish to teach through TFA to stay in the Old Dominion.
No one suggests that TFA is the answer to fixing the state's achievement gap, but it is one more arrow in the quiver of those who wish the best for Virginia's students.
Recommended reading during the Civil War Sesquicentennial:
William S. McFeely's "Frederick Douglass."
Born as a slave in Maryland, Frederick Douglass escaped to freedom and became a leading orator for the cause of emancipation. McFeely won the Lincoln Prize for this biography, which "captures the many sides of Douglass and recreates the high drama of a turbulent era."