By Maggie Johnson
Last Thursday, January 26, Teach for America (TFA) sponsored a CLP at Furman titled “Closing the Achievement Gap in Education.” The program featured a presentation by TFA alumnus Eric Giles highlighting socioeconomic disparities within the public education system and the repercussions they have on American society.
In his presentation, Giles said 15 million American children are forced into an education system that does not adequately prepare them for 21st century life.
“[The] prevailing ideology, that some kids can’t achieve what others can, has led to failure in implementing the necessary policies and investments to improve the system,” he said.
The program concluded with a Q&A session conducted by a panel of TFA volunteers, as well as Furman alumna Molly Jensen, President Rod Smolla’s daughter Erin Malone-Smolla, and Paul Beasley, a representative from the University of South Carolina’s TRIO program, a federally-funded initiative to assist students from low-income areas in reaching their college goals.
Founded in 1990, Teach for America takes college graduates of all majors from top U.S. universities and places them in Title I schools to teach for two years. Before heading to their assignments, TFAvolunteers complete a five week training program intended to prepare them for the challenges they are sure to face while in the classroom.
For senior economics major Andrew Pinckney, the potential rewards of solving these challenges are part of the reason why he applied to become a TFA volunteer. Pinckney, who will be joining the program upon graduating, first heard about TFA as a freshman when a senior in his fraternity was accepted as a TFA volunteer.
Pinckney said he has worked as a volunteer at the Sterling Community Center in one of Greenville’s more disadvantaged neighborhoods and that working with children from low income neighborhoods has been the “most rewarding activity” during his time here at Furman. He said he is looking forward to continue being a positive impact on young students’ lives through TFA.