Students across the United States are being encouraged to take the lead in classrooms and fight against ongoing education inequalities by becoming a part of organizations and programs like Teach For America (TFA) and Urban Teachers.
Teach For America and Urban Teachers believe that it is important for students to be exposed to the factors of segregation that still exist today in America’s education system.
To assist with recruiting future educators, both organizations uses the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes documentary Teach Us All to inspire students to become teachers in minority school systems.
The documentary highlights education inequality faced during the Little Rock school crisis in 1957 while making connections to remaining critical issues in today’s education system over 60 years later.
Audrey Williamson, the HBCU (historically black college and university) recruitment manager for TFA, expressed the importance of ensuring that students of aware of these issues.
“We want to spread awareness and have a conversation about the disparities in education, specifically about racial segregation and its long history from the beginning of schooling to where we are now,” Williamson said. “Even though we are not officially segregated now, the way zoning works makes us more segregated now than we were 40 years ago.”
Since its start in 1989 with 100 part-time student recruiters, Teach For America has expanded to over 56,000 members dedicated to revolutionizing education in urban communities within 53 regions through diversity one classroom at time.
Servicing Baltimore, Dallas, Fort Worth and Washington, D.C., the program understands the need to combat racial and socioeconomic inequality with teachers that can relate to the upbringing of their students.
Urban Teachers is a program that uses intense coaching and hands on experience to produce teachers that while change the lives of children living in cities with the nation's lowest education rates.
The southeastern recruiter for Urban Teachers, Zae Finley, explained the significance of using the information in the film to strengthen America’s battered school system for minorities.
“In the film, students saw that in New York they are given a choice after 6th grade which means they can choose what school they want to go to, but because of their area code and where they live or because they did not receive the proper education those schools that they really want to go to may still discriminate against them,” Finley said.
Christopher Anderson, who is the career center coordinator, helps students with career guidance and said it is a need for students become teachers in under resourced communities.
“…and also raise awareness that there is a need for our students and that underrepresented students such as Latinos and African-Americans are a lot better at serving students in under resourced communities,” Anderson said.
Ultimately, both Teach for America and Urban Teachers encourages students to become educators and help uplift urban communities.
“Our goal is to make sure that we put our educators in the field to actually make a difference and inspire,” Finely continued. “It’s not about having a super hero mentality of saying you’re going to save, but we definitely want you to go in with a mentality that you’re going to make a difference in the lives of young people that you’ll be working with.”
For information on Teach For America and Urban Teachers visit their websites, teachforamerica.org and urbanteachers.org.