Teach For America Seeks Native Educators

Nov 8th, 2015 | By | Category: 27-2: American Indian Law, Tribal College News
By Vanessa Descalzi

Teach For America’s Native Alliance Initiative focuses on improving outcomes for Indigenous students. Maile Akina (above) returned to her community in Hawai’i and taught at Nanakuli High and Interim School.

Teach For America (TFA) is continuing its campaign to recruit recent teacher education graduates from tribal colleges and universities. The organization’s Native Alliance Initiative is celebrating five years of working in partnership with tribal communities in an effort to provide effective teachers, advance student achievement, and increase opportunities through culturally responsive teaching.

TFA is a national education nonprofit that recruits recent college graduates and professionals to become life-long leaders in the movement to end educational inequity. The organization focuses its efforts on teaching in high-needs urban and rural schools.

The organization points out that today in the United States, the quality of children’s education is largely determined by their zip code. This opportunity gap disproportionately affects many American Indian students: only 49% of Native students graduate from high school and just 11% obtain a college degree, which is far below the national average of 86% and 29%, respectively.

In an effort to combat such statistics, TFA’s Native Alliance Initiative works to strengthen relationships with tribal communities and helps improve outcomes for students. This fall, nearly 800 TFA corps members are working across six Native regions, including Hawai’i, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington, South Dakota, and the Twin Cities. The organization estimates that the effort will impact about 38,000 students. Research indicates TFA corps members have a positive effect on student achievement. Statewide studies consistently place TFA at or near the top of teacher preparation programs when it comes to effects on student achievement.

Due to its efforts, TFA has received formal resolutions of support from the Oglala and Rosebud tribal councils of South Dakota, and for two years running the American Indian Science and Engineering Society named TFAone of the top 50 workplaces for Native American STEM professionals. Moreover, the Bureau of Indian Education awarded and now recognizes TFA as an additional teacher pipeline in all Bureau-operated schools across the country.

Although teachers from all backgrounds can make an impact on students’ lives, TFA believes that a diverse teacher workforce— one that reflects the racial and socioeconomic background of the nation’s children— is crucial to achieving its vision of eliminating educational inequity. The organization places an emphasis on recruiting a diverse corps, specifically individuals who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian. For more information or to apply to Teach For America, visit their website at: www.teachforamerica. org/apply.

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