What gives with The Star’s Phillip Tutor? He lives in a community where the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce, United Way, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama and several other local organizations just joined forces to present several screenings of the documentary Waiting for Superman with discourse following the movie lasting another hour.
Yet, in his column, he jumped all over a proven organization, Teach For America, that is sending well-trained professionals into schools that face issues similar to those in our fair city of Anniston. Instead of rolling out the red carpet and inviting them to check us out as a future site — which I did last year — he slammed the door in their face before they even get up the sidewalk.
Honestly, the type of attention-seeking commentary and self-aggrandizement found in Tutor’s column is usually reserved for City Council members, whom he never hesitates to criticize. According to the Teach For America website, “Teach For America provides a critical source of well-trained teachers who are helping break the cycle of educational inequity. These teachers, called corps members, commit to teach for two years in one of 39 urban and rural regions across the country, going above and beyond traditional expectations to help their students to achieve at high levels . . . Corps members receive intensive training and support designed to help them lead their students to make substantial academic progress. As full-time teachers corps members fill the gaps in capacity that plague school districts in their communities and lead their students to increased levels of achievement, providing tangible evidence that the achievement gap can be closed.”
Additionally, it says, “Teach For America’s 20,000 alumni are playing critical leadership roles in the effort to improve the quality of public education in low-income communities. Armed with the experience, conviction and insight that come from leading children to fulfill their potential, our alumni are working from all sectors to shape our schools, policies, and investments in low-income communities.”
Twenty years ago, a friend of mine from college applied to be a corps member and got turned down. He is now an associate dean of education at a major university, and I repeat — his application was one that got turned down. These Teach For America teachers are not any old college graduates plucked off the streets. These are among the best and brightest teachers in America.
Mr. Tutor, I implore you to do your research and support moving education forward in our community and state.
Donna Satterlee Ross lives in Anniston.