Teach for America offers employment opportunities for TCU students

Apr 2nd, 2014 | By | Category: Online TC News, Tribal College News, Web Exclusive
By Vanessa Descalzi

The American Indian Science and Engineering Society has named Teach for America as one of the top workplaces for American Indian STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professionals. Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative has worked closely with tribal communities in an effort to improve education outcomes for American Indian students. The initiative enables graduates from education programs offered at various tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to find employment in Native communities.

Students in low-income and historically disenfranchised communities face limited educational opportunities when compared to their higher income peers. In Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools, the high school graduation rate is 46%, and just 11% of students obtain a college degree—compared to the national average of 89% and 29%, respectively. “Too often, the obstacles faced by Native students—including poverty, disenfranchisement, and educators who view their unique culture as a deficit instead of an asset—are overlooked in the dialogue around educational equity,” said Robert Cook (Lakota), managing director of Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative and a citizen of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

Through its Native Alliance Initiative, Teach For America seeks to recruit, train, and develop recent graduates and professionals to teach in tribal communities for a two-year period. Because teachers who share the backgrounds of their students have the potential to have greater impact by serving as mentors and role models, the nonprofit organization places an emphasis on recruiting teachers of Native background. Since starting the Native Alliance Initiative, the percentage of corps members from American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian backgrounds has more than doubled.

Due to its efforts, Teach For America has received formal endorsements from the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. According to the organization, 670 corps members teach more than 14,000 children from Native backgrounds in New Mexico, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Further, corps members have taught more than 83,000 Native students.

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