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Teach for America seeks graduates

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By Andrea Lamberti

The Teach for America program will recruit non-education majors to teach subjects related to their majors in elementary and high schools throughout the country for a minimum of two years. Although teaching certification is not necessary, the recruits will be able to credit their teaching experience toward certification later on.

Newly recruited graduates will attend a summer institute that will train them to teach starting in the fall of 1990. Certain urban and rural areas of the country have been tentatively targeted because of their severe teacher shortages. These include Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, rural Mississippi, rural New Mexico, rural North Carolina, New Orleans, New York, and cities in New Jersey.

The new teachers will earn salaries averaging around $23,000. They will also receive a two-year deferment on certain college loans.

Over 100 students to participate

One hundred forty six fourth and fifth graders from most of the elementary schools in Cambridge will come to MIT on Saturday for a day of activities, minicourses and presentations. Butin hopes to pair "every elementary school student [with] an MIT student" to act as a big brother or sister for the day.

Assistant principals and teachers will come to MIT as well, he added.

Fourth and fifth graders were invited to participate. The national organization has chosen to focus on fifth graders "because they are the [graduating] class of 2001," Butin explained.

Fifth grade is an auspicious time to introduce college students to the elementary school students, in part because "kids are more manageable at that age, than at, say, 14," Albert Giroux, director of public relations for the Cambridge schools, added.

To introduce the younger students to the academic atmosphere at MIT, Professor Harry West, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will give a 2.70 demonstration in room 10-250.

The rest of the morning will include mini-courses and presentations given by MIT students, followed by lunch in Walker Memorial. The grade school students will end the day making drop posters and banners about education with their MIT big brothers and sisters.

Share a Vital Earth, Hunger Action Group and the Coalition Against Apartheid are among the student groups that will give presentations. Other presentations include a magic show given by undergraduate chemistry students, a tour of the Athena labs, a history of the Caribbean by a student from Trinidad, and a demonstration of the properties of aerodynamics by making paper airplanes, according to Elizabeth E. Quinn '90, one of the organizers of Teach for America day.

Butin identified the goals of Teach for America day as "(1) to get elementary students aware of MIT, and (2) to try to get MIT students involved in education, so that they can make a difference in the community and the country." Butin also hopes that the day "will show [students] that there's an opportunity to work or tutor in the community."

"It sends a good message when schools like MIT and Harvard" get involved in the improvement of public school education, Assistant Superintendent of Cambridge Schools Francis Foley said. Foley also believed that "it sends a [positive] message to educators, too, that there are young people who see [the quality of public school education as deficient] and are actually doing something about it."

Started by 1989 graduate

Teach for America was founded by Wendy Kopp, a 1989 Princeton graduate, who wrote her senior thesis on how to develop a program to attract the nation's best and brightest to education in the public school systems. "I just realized that top students might go into teaching if we could find a way to recruit them. It seemed so simple. One problem with the education reform movement is that people don't talk to college students," Kopp told The New York Times

in December.

The goals of the national organization are to "to recruit students [for teaching careers ... [and] to make college students aware about the need of going into education" at either the local or national level, Butin said.

The organization is funded by several corporate sponsors, among them Union Carbide Corporation, Apple Computer, Xerox Corporation and Mobil Corporation. Morgan Stanley and Company is providing office space for Teach for America in New York City, Butin said.