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'Teaching America' Lessons

November 23, 1990

Wendy Kopp's efforts, as reported in "Teaching America a Lesson" (Nov. 11) are laudable. There is a need for bright, educated, young Americans to teach in our nation's schools. Kopp's envisionment of a "Peace Corps for teachers one year after graduation" promises an army of highly motivated, well-educated people who would teach for a year in some of the nation's beleaguered schools.

While this idealistic and socially conscientious plan should be especially welcomed after a decade of American self-consciousness and self-absorption, nonetheless Teach for America, as its model the Peace Corps, will benefit its teacher volunteers more than the schools.

In the end, in June, the bright-faced, pearl-wearing teaching enthusiasts will return to their ivy-covered graduate halls. The schools will remain untouched and the children will be left bereft.

Teaching is difficult work that requires unending enthusiasm, patience and caring as well as solid academic preparation, commitment to a better future and continuous renewal. If Teach for America can recruit 500 volunteers who will learn to love our nation's children and stay in those classrooms for years to come, then Wendy Kopp has provided a catalyst for young people's renewed interest in teaching, and she deserves our thanks.

But if these volunteers leave the schools, then what is Teach for America but a finishing school and recommendation for medical, law or graduate school?

ELLEN C. FINAN

Moreno Valley

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