What Works: The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program

Today’s New York Times features an article, found here, on the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program. North Carolina gives scholarships to top academic students attending an in-state public college, and in return the students spend at least four years teaching in a public school. The program, which for the last 25 years has been attracting top talent and training them to be teachers, brings in 500 fellows each year, about 25 percent of them Black or Hispanic. While the fellows must stay in teaching for four years after graduating college, five years out, 73% of them remained teachers, and 60% of the fellows are still teaching in the North Carolina Public School system 20 years after finishing the program. A few years ago Congress passed legislation which uses the Teaching Fellows Program as a national model but financing has been limited.

This program is in the news today not just to showcase the good work that it is doing (the article features a Black male fifth grade teacher who is a former fellow and a thoughtful, effective teacher) but because North Carolina lawmakers recently voted to phase out this program over the next three years as part of their budget cutting package. According to the Times, Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis is reconsidering this cut. If any GCP readers live in North Carolina, please let him know that you agree that this program is worth saving! Education reform experts around the country agree that no one program or plan of action can solve our national crisis, and there are lots of good programs on the state and local level which are helping children and should be supported and expanded. The North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program certainly appears to be one of them.

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