- The Washington Times - Monday, August 3, 2009

When the 2009-10 school year begins this month for many students, Teach for America will have a record-setting number of college graduates teaching in poor communities across the nation. In fact, this is the first time officials had to reject applicants who met the organization’s criteria.

Applications more than doubled from last year, with more than 35,000 graduates applying. The organization selected 4,100. More than 7,300 first- and second-year corps members will teach in 34 regions that include six new cities — Boston; Dallas; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tenn.; Tulsa, Okla.; and Wilmington, Del. Demand was high in rural areas such as South Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta.

“This is the first year when we’ve had to turn away people who would have met our admission bar in any previous year,” Teach for America founder and chief executive officer Wendy Kopp said.

Despite tighter budgets by school districts, some communities requested additional teachers. Mississippi school officials, for example, asked for at least 200 Teach for America recruits to help turn around the state’s struggling schools. Baltimore, which doubled its request to 150 recruits, and some other urban districts are also asking for more.

All told, corps members will teach in more than 100 school districts in 27 states and the nation’s capital — where the chancellor of the school system, Michelle A. Rhee, is a corps alumnus.

Teach for America recruits on more than 450 college campuses in search of seniors and recent graduates who have demonstrated outstanding achievement, perseverance and leadership.

Teach for America is the No. 1 employer of graduating seniors at more than 20 schools, including Georgetown University, Spelman College and the University of Chicago, officials said.

“Spelman has an abiding history of leadership and service, and I’ve been impressed to see so many Spelman women demonstrate their commitment to service by joining Teach for America,” said Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum. “The fact that more than 150 of our graduates since 1990 have become Teach for America teachers speaks to the organization’s strong track record of recruiting the best and brightest to help children in some of our most underserved schools to succeed academically.”

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