Labor-backed effort to oust Teach For America fizzles again

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Teach For America is staying in California, for the time being. Legislation that would have prohibited low-income schools from hiring teachers through that third-party program and others was shelved May 30, though its author plans to revive it next year.

Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens, who taught in low-income schools for 13 years, had said such programs do more harm than good to disadvantaged students because they enlist inexperienced teachers who are not required to make a long-term commitment to the profession. Supporters of Teach For America say such programs draw ambitious educators to schools that are chronically difficult to staff.

“The truth is that the opposition is funded by billionaires and these students don’t have paid lobbyists or organizations walking the halls,” Garcia said in a statement. “It’s politically easier for some of my colleagues to maintain the status quo at the continued expense of poor students.”

If AB 221 does return, it will mark the proposal’s third consecutive try. The bill was initially introduced in 2018, though got no hearing.

—Ricardo Cano