Teach for America may see substantial drop in funding

Teach For America may lose significant funding from the government next year, an abrupt change that might translate into the elimination of more than 1,000 teaching positions, a spokesperson for TFA said this week.

The organization, which sends college graduates to teach in underperforming schools across the nation, is not included in direct appropriations in the federal government’s 2011 budget, Regional Communications Director Kaitlin Gastrock said in an e-mail. Instead, the Obama administration proposed to consolidate a number of existing education funding streams into a few competitive programs in their budget proposal. Within this new proposal, TFA would be eligible to compete for funding under the program called Teacher and Leader Pathways, for which the administration has requested $450 million, Gastrock said.

In past years TFA has received direct appropriations in the federal budget, although in 2010, the organization received only $21 million from the government, significantly less than it was hoping for, Gastrock said. This year, TFA is asking Congress for $50 million in direct funding to help support the increased demand for TFA teachers.

“[TFA] is too large to make sudden, enormous shifts in resource allocations,” Gastrock said. “The timing of the proposed grant competition would not allow Teach For America to grow in 2011 or 2012.”

Gastrock said that the large decline in funding could cause many problems for the organization in the coming years. Without the full $50 million from the government, the organization will have to eliminate approximately 1,350 teaching positions, significantly lowering the number of people who can be hired, she said. Currently there are 7,300 TFA corps members teaching across the country. The change comes at a time when both teachers and jobs are in high demand. Gastrock said both the number of applicants to the 2010 teaching corps and the number of communities and schools seeking teachers from the organization were at all-time highs.

“This demand is a result of Teach For America’s track record of results. A growing body of independent research demonstrates that Teach For America corps members are highly effective classroom teachers,” Gastrock said.

Without the federal funding, Gastrock said 86,000 students will go without education.

TFA has been perennially popular for GW seniors, with around 170 GW seniors applying for TFA this year. Senior Nick Profeta is working for TFA next year, and said he is attempting to inspire others to help the program receive the funding they need to properly run the organization and benefit all the children possible.

“Personally, when I found out about the cut in federal funding for Teach For America, I was pretty discouraged, not only because of the negative effects it will have on Teach For America’s growth plans, but also the negative effects it will have on education reform in this country,” Profeta said.

Profeta said what the organization needs most is for lawmakers to be made aware of the program, and added he thinks many believe the funding should be restored. He has been encouraging students to write to their senators expressing their concern for the organization and their hope for funding to be reinstated.

Supporters can visit the TFA Web site to contact their senators via e-mail to encourage them to vote to reinstate funding, Profeta said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.