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Walk Into the Gap

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Do I really understand the education achievement gap?

If you were to ask a parent, or even a student, from an economically-challenged community if their school was as good as those on the other side of town, what would they say?

In 2005, only 13% of seniors graduating from Locke High School in Los Angeles were eligible to attend college in the Cal State system. This startling statistic was recently shared by Donna Foote, author of Relentless Pursuit, a story about the journy of four Teach For America corps members who taught at Locke.

For those who don't know, Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders for expanding educational opportunity. The book follows their challenges and successes in Los Angeles as they try to close the achievement gap.

So how do we as a nation bridge this gap?

At a recent gathering of TFA Alumni(corps members who had served two years in public schools), Dr. Joel Klein, Chancellor of New York City Schools, shared what he believed was needed to overcome this gap. First, school systems much have accountability. Though no test or system of measurement is perfect, Dr. Klein explained the vital need to demonstrate results and hold teachers, principals, community leaders and parents accountable for student performance. Second, Dr. Klein insitsted on the dramatic impact of high-quality teachers and the countless studies showing how teachers are the most influential force to create significant gains for students. This is why Teach For America has placed over 20,000 corps membrs in under-resourced schools since 1990, opening doors for literally millions of students who face so many additional challenges. Finally, Dr. Klein explained how choice enables parents, especially those in minority communities, to choose the best future for their kids. He shared the popularity of charter schools in New York and the ability of parents to choose the best public schools in the city for their children.

At FedEx, we believe it is vital for our nation to support those who are closing the achievement gap. It is why we support Teach For America. As a guest at the Alumni Summit, I heard many of the stories of the 1,500 alumni who were still teaching, leading school distrits and running for school board, all working to reshape the educational landscape for so many underserved students. For these TFA alums, their dedication to the cause comes from their overwhelming commitment, grounded in their successful teaching experience, to create equitable educational opportunities for all children.

FedEx applauds these alumni and their tireless commitment to open doors for every child to a great education.

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