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Teach for America Coming to Ohio

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed into a law a measure that will eliminate restrictions that prevented the Teach for America program from operating in the state.

To this point, Ohio law has restricted the grades and subjects that alternatively licensed individuals are able to teach, which made it difficult for school administrators to hire TFA teachers. The new law specifically says that TFA graduates will meet the state's qualifications to teach.

TFA, for those unfamiliar with it, places recent college graduates, who go through the program's training, in disadvantaged urban and rural schools around the country. Teachers agree to work in those schools for two years. That process stands in contrast to traditional teacher-prep models, in which aspiring educators go through education programs on university campuses.

TFA's effectiveness in improving student achievement, and in keeping teachers in the profession long enough to have an sustained impact on schools, is a matter of some debate. But Ohio officials, including Republicans like Kasich, along with some Democrats, obviously believed their schools benefit from an infusion of TFA talent.

The program's exact plans for moving into Ohio are being still being worked out, TFA spokeswoman Rebecca Neale said in an email. Over the last year, 400 college graduates left Ohio to participate in the program elsewhere, she said—so presumably some of them could be convinced to stay and work in Buckeyeland.

Neale said the organization will begin exploring partnerships with Ohio school districts, philanthropies, and a university in the state where its members can take graduate-level courses. The goal, she said, is to launch a Teach For America Ohio regional program so that college graduates from the state can move easily into schools.

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