University of Washington could train Teach for America recruits

May 12, 2011

The University of Washington plans to launch a program to train and certify Teach for America recruits. People who go through the program would start teaching after just five weeks of intensive instruction.

Teach for America expects to bring at least 35 of its recruits to Seattle and Federal Way this fall.

The move has drawn opposition from the teachers union and some parent groups who prefer teachers to have traditional credentials when they start. Students in UW’s main teacher education track spend about 8 times longer in training before taking over a classroom than recruits in the new Teach for America program would.

After completing the accelerated training, Teach for America participants would still have to work toward full teaching certifications while they fulfill their 2-year commitments to the program.   

Tom Stritikus, dean of the UW College of Education, tells Linda Shaw of The Seattle Times that training the recruits does not mean the university endorses Teach for America. Instead, he says it’s a way for UW to shape how some teachers are choosing to get their educations:

"The world of alternative certification isn't going away, and we need to make sure it's done really well."

The university still needs to gain approval for its proposal from the state's Professional Educator Standards Board and find funding for the program.

More about Teach for America:

  • It places recruits in 39 regions across the country with the goal of closing the achievement gap for low-income children.
  • More than 46,000 applicants applied for 4,500 spots last year.
  • It has an annual budget is $212 million and a staff of 1,400.