Ohio Considers Lifting Bar on Teach for America

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March 14, 2011; Source: The Columbus Dispatch | If the state legislature agrees with Gov. John Kasich, Teach for America may finally be coming to Ohio. In his State of the State speech last week, the governor said it was time to remove restrictions that prevent the nonprofit from placing program participants who commit to work as teachers for two years in Ohio's urban and rural public schools.

Up until now the group "has been effectively been barred from setting up shop in the state," according to the Columbus Dispatch, "because its alternative-pathway teachers had difficulties becoming fully licensed." A teaching degree – which many Teach for America participants don't have – is a prerequisite for a resident’s education license in Ohio. Bills pending in the state legislature would substitute other requirements to allow Teach for America to place program members that meet those criteria in classrooms.

"These are bright, young people. It is one additional strategy to get people to be interested in teaching and probably as importantly (in education) in the long run," said Mark Real, president and CEO of KidsOhio, a Columbus-based nonprofit group that studies education issues. Eric Hanushek, a Stanford University researcher who studies education and economics, concurs that this would be a good move for the state. "There's very little to no evidence that going through a traditional education school makes you a better teacher," said Hanushek.

Teach for America participants aren't exactly unknown quantities in the state. The Columbus Dispatch reports that several Ohio charter schools have Teach for America alumni in their classrooms. They include the high-performing Columbus Collegiate Academy, Arts and College Preparatory Academy, The Charles School, and KIPP Journey Academy.—Bruce Trachtenberg