TFA empowers minorities

On Thursday, Teach For America and the Afro-American Cultural Center will be hosting a conversation on a topic that’s deeply personal for me. When I was a senior at Yale in 2011, I was weighing whether I should choose a career path that would ensure the economic stability of my family back home in the projects of Chicago or pay forward the opportunity that made my improbable journey to an East Coast Ivy League school possible. I come from a very poor family and I had to choose between taking a lucrative job that would allow me to provide for my grandmother and siblings or accepting the opportunity to teach as a Teach For America corps member and share my education with students on the west side of Chicago.

Diana Rosen’s column (“TFA fails minorities,” Oct. 14) questions why TFA would sponsor an event addressing issues important to communities of color. To me, it comes as no surprise. In my three years in the TFA family, I’ve seen the organization’s deep commitment to working in partnership with communities of color and cultivating the next generation of black and brown leaders.

As Rosen notes, it’s been an incredibly challenging year in Chicago’s public schools. As a native Chicagoan, a former CPS student and a Chicago teacher, the cuts in teaching positions and school closings saddened me deeply. But contrary to what the column implies, TFA corps members and alumni teachers were subject to layoffs and impacted by school closing just like all other CPS teachers. TFA corps members did not replace veteran teachers – those positions were eliminated and were not refilled.

It’s critical to hear the voices of students, families, teachers and neighbors when we talk about the issues impacting our schools and communities. These voices are notably absent from Rosen’s piece. I’m proud to say these are the voices that inspire my work every day.

Timeica Bethel

Oct. 15

The author is a 2011 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College.