Roughly 400,000 students—enough to fill up nearly 5,000 buses—make their way through Chicago's public school classrooms each year. Of them, 86 percent come from low-income families and just 60 percent can expect to make it to high school graduation. For too many students in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, our public schools are not delivering on their promise.
Despite this crisis, every day, students in our region prove what’s possible. In the schools and classrooms where they are succeeding, we find much in common: high academic expectations, kids and educators working with purpose, communities leaning in, parents engaged and empowered to demand excellence. Without a doubt, poverty makes this harder, and schools serving low-income students simply must do more to meet their needs. Through strong partnerships with communities, it can be done. Across neighborhood, grade level, or school type, we see a sense of possibility—and the refusal to accept what is and a determination to prove what can be.
Teach For America supports this effort by recruiting and developing educators to be a part of this work. As principals look to build excellent schools, our corps members provide a critical source of talent. Our alumni advocate for change both inside the system and out—challenging the educational, racial, and economic status quo with tough questions and innovative solutions to meet the needs of thousands of children. Today 850 TFA alumni are veteran teachers, and more than 60 are local principals. They work as activists, healthcare providers, early childhood education center directors, parent advocates, and more. In all they do, they operate with an unwavering belief in the potential of all kids.
While studies affirm the effectiveness of our program, each day, we listen, learn, and strive to improve. Together with tens of thousands of kids, parents, educators, and community members, we commit to this because we believe in what’s possible—for public schools, for Chicago and Northwest Indiana, through the promise of opportunity for all.