Thursday, March 24, 2011

Teach For Ohio

By Brianna Savoca

The Ohio House passed legislation today to bring Teach For America (TFA) to Ohio. This news makes a lot of sense- I asked upon my initial interview with TFA why there was not a TFA program in Cleveland, Columbus, or Cincinnati. These urban school districts are in great need of educational equity.

However, blogs and forums lit up bashing TFA Ohio. According to many bloggers, TFA in Ohio would cause educational turmoil, current teachers will lose their jobs, and TFA is going to cost the Ohio taxpayers a TON of money. I have to laugh. TFA, a program working toward educational opportunity for all, is going to cause the education system in Ohio to self-destruct? It is extremely unlikely any current teachers will lose their jobs, as urban districts are often seeking out new teachers annually due to a high-turnover rate. Finally, new teacher salaries are LESS than veteran teachers, so I don't see how any taxpayer would be paying more to have TFA teachers working for their school system. Clearly all three arguments are lacking substance or research.

As a TFA corp member, an Ohio native, and an Ohio University graduate, this issue strikes a serious nerve. Critics of TFA Ohio also argue the program will take away teaching jobs from Ohio graduates. Again this is untrue, as I would have loved to stay in Ohio and work for educational equity in my home state, but unfortunately this legislation was not passed when I was entering the program. While many suburban and wealthy school districts in Ohio have established a tradition for excellence (one of the schools of which I was lucky enough to attend), many urban Ohio schools are not.

Ohio is extremely racist. We keep minorities ghettoed in the major cities, low-income white families in the "buffer-zone" suburbs which border the cities, and the middle class and upper class thrive in the nice, safe suburbs and ignore the plight of the non-whites. Believe me, the difference between the all-white school I went to and the 99% black school I teach in are literally night and day, which is not at fault to the students AT ALL. It is a result of the ongoing racism and non-white poverty that our culture perpetuates due to a LACK OF QUALITY EDUCATION. All students deserve an excellent education, not just the wealthy white ones.

Haters, please take off your blinders and realize, the excellent veteran teachers accumulate in the wealthy suburbs of Ohio. They rarely stick around in an urban school setting. While TFA isn't perfect, it is bringing in extremely hardworking, dedicated young teachers to urban students who are not getting the same education as all the whites in the suburbs. Until the whites are ready to send their students to an urban school for a taste of how "equal" our educations really are, I applaud anyone who has the moral fiber and guts to step up to the plate and apply for TFA Ohio. I will be doing everything in my being to support the movement and bring educational equity to Ohio.