Teach for America applications from across the country hit a record high this year, with the number of GW applicants holding steady.
The TFA program saw a spike in applications for the past 3 years, reaching a record 48,000 applicants this year. This year, 169 GW seniors, or about 7 percent of the graduating class, applied. About 170 students from the Class of 2010 applied as well.
Teach for America is a 2-year program that trains and sends graduates to urban and rural schools across the country to work with students at struggling schools. Once accepted, participants go through a 5-week training period before they begin teaching.
“We’re really excited to see an increasingly large number of folks interested in applying,” Kaitlin Gastrock, a regional communications director for TFA, said. She added that students see TFA as a vehicle to directly impact and narrow an achievement gap among younger students.
Senior Andre Smith said he will teach special education in New York. He worked for TFA last summer.
Smith said he wants to teach students the lesson that “no matter what you look like, where you come from, who told you ‘no,’ you can make it.”
Senior Josh Bailey will join the TFA corps in Baltimore, and said he attributes his interest in education to the GW Office of Community Service.
“I think I was extremely na’ve when I was in high school in thinking that everyone, if they wanted to, could go to college,” Bailey said. “After coming to GW, and living in a city that’s extremely different from where I grew up, I realized that that’s not true and that’s not right.”
TFA funding has not yet been factored into the White House’s 2012 budget blueprint, but Republicans in the House of Representatives have included an $18 million TFA earmark slash in their budget cuts.
Gastrock said federal funding reductions would slow TFA’s growth and the program would lose over 400 teachers.
“With increased federal funding through 2016, we would be able to place more than 17,000 corps members each year who would annually reach more than one million children living in poverty,” Gastrock said.