In this photo taken Sept. 1, 2011, Jennifer Mojica works with students in her math class at Holmes Elementary School in Miami. In a distressed neighborhood north of Miami's gleaming downtown, a group of enthusiastic but inexperienced instructors from Teach for America is trying to make progress where more veteran teachers have had difficulty: raising students' reading and math scores. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)   National Journal

The mission of Teach for America is to offer "excellent education for kids in low-income communities," but a third of its young educators are now being directed to private charter schools, many with already high academic achievements, according to a Reuters story.

The rate at which the 10,000-strong corps of teachers assigns young teachers to charter schools is rising. Last year, according to the article, the teaching program placed 33 percent of its teachers in charter schools, up from 13 percent in the 2007-2008 school year.

Although typically serving low-income communities, many charter schools already have strong academic results and typically have more resources and donors than public schools. Critics fear rising pressure to privatize public education.

One key difference between charter and public schools, according to the Center for Public Education, is the former's freedom and autonomy from state and federal rules when it comes to staffing, curriculum choices, and budget management.

A former Teach for America educator told Reuters she fears that by steering teachers to private schools rather than place them in public ones, the teacher service program is feeding into the public's perception that only private schools are capable of educating tomorrow's future. "I can't stand the self-importance," Camika Royal, who worked for TFA for 13 years, told the news agency.

TFA's website cites a growing demand for Spanish and bilingual education, as well as math and science teachers. Teachers are placed in classrooms from prekindergarten to 12th grade in 46 urban and rural areas. Their salaries range from $25,500 to $51,000, plus benefits.  

This article is part of our Next America: Higher Education project, which is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

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