October 28, 2001

New teacher candidates recruited from college, mid-careers

CHICAGO—More than 150 recent college grads and mid-career professionals will gather at 7 p.m. at Comiskey Park Monday to address the challenges they will face in Chicago’s public schools if selected for the Teach For America (TFA) and Golden Apple Teacher Education (GATE) programs.

The event, sponsored by The Chicago Public Education Fund, will feature the PBS documentary “Teach,” which chronicles the challenges and successes of first-year teachers in Los Angeles public schools. Produced by Davis Guggenheim and shown on WTTW-TV last month, the documentary is a gritty, realistic portrayal of the joys—and difficulties—facing urban public school teachers. A group of current TFA corps members and GATE teachers will analyze that portrayal and offer stories of their own in a panel discussion following the documentary.

Teach For America recruits outstanding college senior leaders and recent graduates, while Golden Apple Teacher Education focuses on bringing mid-career professionals—particularly those with math and science backgrounds—into the classroom. Both programs offer rigorous training and support systems for teachers through education schools at Northwestern, UIC, and National-Louis universities.

Investment managers at The Fund believe that bringing the two organizations together for a recruitment event will give potential recruits a larger sense of purpose and connect them with others hoping to improve the quality of public education.

“We want these potential teachers to understand that they’re part of a larger drive to get more teachers with strong academic backgrounds into the classroom,” said Alton Nelson, an education investment associate at The Fund. “We’re answering the teacher shortage in this city by focusing on alternative strategies to bring great teachers to Chicago public schools, and these two programs bring really high-quality talent and energy to the teaching profession.

“This is more important than ever,” Nelson continued. “With the focus on teachers who aren’t passing the basic skills tests and the senate hearings on Tuesday, we’re demonstrating that we can recruit great teachers from non-traditional sources.”

State Senator Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) will lead hearings at the James Thompson Center in Chicago Tuesday in response to a Chicago Sun-Times investigation that showed that more than 1,000 teachers failed the state basic skills exams. In many cases, the investigation found, those teachers remained in the classroom.

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As a venture capital fund for public education, The Chicago Public Education Fund is an unprecedented catalyst for improving school leadership and student achievement system wide. Launched by a group of corporate and civic leaders, The Fund brings private sector dollars and expertise to high-impact programs aligned with Chicago Public Schools priorities. Find out more at www.cpef.org.