Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Teach for America partners with U-M on
Detroit expansion

Teach For America will return to Detroit, bringing 100 top college graduates to teach in some of the state’s highest-need schools for the 2010-11 school year. Teach For America teachers will apply for open positions in Detroit Public Schools and area charter schools.

U-M will be Teach For America’s local university partner. All Teach For America corps members in Detroit will enroll at the university to obtain their state teaching certification. Teach For America selected U-M due to the School of Education’s current initiative to redesign teacher training, as well as the School’s commitment to prepare highly skilled teachers, its strengths in research on the teaching of academic content.

“We are pleased to be able to partner with Teach For America,” says Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education. “We are committed not only to improving educational outcomes for children in Detroit but to transforming our system for preparing and licensing teachers in this country.

“This partnership will allow us to work with our colleagues at Teach For America to develop and study effective approaches to preparing and assessing teachers. Our program for Teach For America’s Detroit corps members will be part of the Teacher Education Initiative, our effort to redesign teacher education — from undergraduate to master’s and now alternative route programs — so that it is more focused on practice, and to build materials and tools that will serve the field broadly.”

School of Education instructors will provide a two-year highly focused training program to Teach for America-Detroit corps members. The program will feature an innovative approach to teacher education: Corps members will work toward a pre-identified and sequenced set of instructional competencies that are the highest-leverage for first-year teachers, both in general and specifically in the Detroit teaching context.

They will be supported to develop the subject-specific and general knowledge and skills they need to be effective with their students. Certification will be awarded when corps members demonstrate proficiency across the set of competencies. The program will become a key site for researchers and instructors associated with the Teacher Education Initiative to design and study cutting-edge approaches to professional education for teachers.

Teach For America is the national corps of top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in under-resourced schools and become lifelong leaders in the pursuit of educational equity. Teach For America’s Detroit corps members are part of a national corps selected from an applicant pool of more than 46,000.

Among these applicants were 12 percent of all Ivy League seniors and more than 1,300 individuals from across Michigan, including 7 percent of the senior class at U-M, 3 percent of seniors at Michigan State University and 20 percent of seniors at Kalamazoo College. U-M was the top producer of Teach For America corps members in 2009.

“We welcome Teach For America to Detroit and look forward to partnering in the effort to improve educational outcomes for our students. Teach For America’s expansion to Detroit signals a critical step forward for our students in Detroit,” says Ralph Bland, superintendent of Detroit Edison Public School Academy.

Adds Barbara Byrd-Bennett, chief academic and accountability auditor for Detroit Public Schools, “We continually seek partnerships with strong organizations like Teach For America that can bring value to our children. We look forward to a successful partnership and will do all we can to make sure it is a lasting one.”

“We’re excited to return to Detroit and join the innovative efforts of leaders across the city to expand educational opportunity for all children,” says Wendy Kopp, founder and chief executive officer of Teach For America. “We are inspired by the leadership of Gov. (Jennifer) Granholm, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and the Skillman Foundation, and are tremendously grateful for the support from district and school leaders, community groups and local philanthropists in Detroit. This commitment will enable us to develop a strong pipeline of dedicated teachers and education leaders for the city.”

Teach For America previously placed teachers in Detroit schools from 2001-03 and will return this coming school year. The organization selected Detroit, one of four expansion sites for the coming school year, due to remarkable community leadership, an innovative vision for closing the student achievement gap and the city’s commitment to ensure that Teach For America’s presence can be sustained over time.

Teach For America corps members in Detroit will apply for positions in high-needs subjects and schools, and will be considered alongside other new teacher candidates.

Teach For America’s network currently includes more than 7,300 corps members in 35 regions and 17,000 alumni across the country working from every professional sector to level the playing field for children and families in low-income communities. Detroit is home to some 215 Teach For America alumni.

Nationally, about two-thirds of Teach For America alumni remain in education, where they are starting schools, serving as principals and district administrators, and winning accolades in the classroom, including the 2007 teacher of the year awards in two states and the 2005 National Teacher of the Year Award.

For more on Teach for America, go to