Teach For America has chosen Kansas City, Mo., as an expansion site for its program that places top college graduates into teaching positions in the nation's highest-need public schools. In the 2008-09 school year, as many as 50 talented and energetic teachers will be added to the Kansas City Missouri School District. The national program's corps of top graduates commit to two years of teaching in urban and rural public schools.
In its 17-year history, Teach For America has placed 17,000 teachers who are committed to improving student achievement in the nation's public schools. They've built a force of more than 12,000 dedicated alumni who continue to work within education and from all other sectors to help level the playing field for children and families in low-income communities.
Today, 5,000 Teach For America corps members are teaching in 26 urban and rural regions across the country. In the 2008-09 school year, some 6,000 members will be placed in 29 regions, now including Kansas City. The organization's ambitious growth plans call for 7,500 members in 33 regions by 2010.
Expansion into Kansas City has been made possible by a $2.5 million challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation, supporting the new site in its first two years. Teach For America-Kansas City has also received generous support from the Hall Family Foundation and Major Brands CEO Todd Epsten.
The national problem of educational inequity is starkly evident in the Kansas City area. Missouri Assessment Program results show a glaring achievement gap between KCMSD students — approximately 80 percent of whom qualify for free or reduced lunch — and their peers just 30 minutes away in a school district where only 10 percent of students are considered low-income. Less than 29 percent of KCMSD students scored proficient or higher on the MAP communication arts test, compared with 53 percent in the more affluent district.
"The Kauffman Foundation supports innovative programs aimed at improving the academic achievement of Kansas City-area students, especially those who are most disadvantaged," said Carl Schramm, president and CEO of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. "We are thrilled to be able to bring Teach For America to Kansas City's public schools. Teach For America's approach is a natural fit for our mission of creating tangible results for students that help them grow into productive citizens and leaders."