Las Vegas Sun

April 20, 2014

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Editorial: Creating great teachers

A laudable national program that takes top-notch college graduates and turns them into classroom teachers has brought Clark County more than 100 new instructors, the bulk of whom say they are here to stay.

According to a recent story by the Las Vegas Sun, the Teach for America program recruits recent college graduates with strong records of academic achievement, campus leadership and community service and trains them to teach. They are then placed in the nation's neediest classrooms, where they must work for two years. However, many stay longer.

About 75 percent of the Teach for America recruits brought to Clark County since 2004 still are teaching here, the Sun reports. Students and coworkers describe these instructors as innovative, motivated and upbeat.

They also produce academic achievement. In the 2004-05 school year, which was Teach for America's first year in Clark County, 43 percent of the students assigned to these instructors advanced more than 1.5 years in academics, the Sun's Emily Richmond reports. In the second year of the program, 63 percent of these teachers' students made such advancements. And 90 percent of all students advanced at least one year in academic growth under the program's teachers.

While we firmly believe that Nevada's schools need more money to properly outfit classrooms and adequately compensate teachers, we also have called for innovation in how our schools are run, and that includes innovative methods of recruiting good teachers to join those that Nevada already possesses.

Teach for America currently has 126 teachers in Clark County. It would be great to have more, but the local Teach for America office must raise more money from private sources for recruiting, training and ongoing administrative support.

It is a worthy investment. Erin Lynch, the School District's middle school teacher of the year and a Teach for America graduate, told the Sun, "We have dedication and passion - those are the qualities Teach for America looks for when it recruits." These are qualities for which every school district should be looking. And Clark County residents are fortunate to have so many of these talented people teaching our children.

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