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learn / 2015

Teach For America: Growing the pipeline of DACAmented teachers for LA students

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by Teach For America-Los Angeles

Given the issues facing our immigrant students in Los Angeles and with the announcement of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, we are committed to increasing pathways for DACA recipients to join as Teach For America corps members teaching in Los Angeles public schools. We believe DACAmented corps members have the unique potential to serve as role models for students who share the same background.

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA
  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • City of Los Angeles

How do you plan to use these resources to make change?

  • Implement a pilot or new project
  • Expand a pilot or a program

How will your proposal improve the following “Learn” metrics?

  • Youth unemployment and underemployment
  • District-wide graduation rates
  • HS student proficiency in English & Language Arts and Math
  • Academic Performance Index* scores
  • College matriculation rates
  • Student education pipeline (an integrated network of pre-schools, K-12 institutions, and higher education systems that prepares students for seamless transitions between high school, higher ed
  • Suspension and expulsion rates (Dream Metric)
  • Truancy rates in elementary and middle schools (Dream Metric)
  • Students perceived sense of safety at and on the way to school (Dream Metric)

Describe in greater detail how you will make LA the best place to learn.

Los Angeles must deliver on the promise of an excellent education for all, including our immigrant children. Los Angeles County has the highest number of undocumented immigrants in the state and within the Los Angeles Unified School District there are reportedly 200,000 undocumented students (Public Policy Institute of California). However, numerous barriers exist for the undocumented community that limits their ability to access educational opportunities. For example, less than 2% of college-going students nationwide are undocumented according to the UndocuScholars Project at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Teach For America can help our city achieve its promise by providing a pipeline of impactful DACAmented educators. Implemented in August 2012, the DACA program allows undocumented young people who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 the opportunity to gain employment and defers any removal action for two years.

For the past 25 years, TFA LA has served as a talent pipeline of effective classroom teachers and leaders in the highest need public schools. Our corps members and alumni have a proven track record of leading students to excel. Last year , one of our teachers teaching chemistry at Ánimo College Preparatory Academy, led 75% of his students to score proficient or advanced in chemistry. In addition, KIPP Raíces, led by a Teach For America alumna, received the 2015 National Blue Ribbon Schools. This school has a student population that is 96% Latino and 90% of students qualify for free or reduced price lunch and yet is proving that all kids can achieve with school wide scores surpassing the state average

As part of our effort to develop more outstanding educators, we are committed to recruiting DACAmented teachers. Imagine if a undocumented student approached a teacher about the hardships of living as an undocumented child. Imagine if that teacher had the experience of navigating the education system from the same shoes.

One current corps member shared, “I wanted to ensure that there would be even just one less child who felt isolated and helpless because of his or her immigration status. I no longer felt afraid, limited, or ashamed because my story – and the story of many other undocumented immigrants – exemplifies perseverance, hard work, and strength, values that I hope to instill in my students.” This connection between teacher and student can bring limitless possibilities for undocumented children.

Please explain how you will evaluate your work.

We will evaluate our work by engaging in and assessing the following activities. • Fostering the leadership of our DACAmented teachers and maximizing their impact with students • Increasing the pipeline of exceptional DACAmented teachers for LAUSD public schools • Increasing awareness on issues facing undocumented students for our staff and teachers

We aim to ensure we can recruit and place up to 10 additional DACAmented educators who will on average teach approximately 100 students beginning in fall 2016. We will measure our teachers’ effectiveness by assessing their students’ progress. We will also evaluate this project by the number of training opportunities we are able to provide to staff and corps members on issues facing undocumented students.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money (financial capital)
  • Volunteers/staff (human capital)
  • Publicity/awareness (social capital)
  • Education/training
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support