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Teach for America coming to Seattle this fall

Despite opposition from the local teachers' union and a lawsuit from parents and community groups, Teach for America has announced it will return to public schools in the Seattle area in the 2011-12 academic year.

The program is controversial because their recruits don't have traditional teaching credentials when they start out in the classroom. Instead, they earn their teaching degrees along the way. 

But their focus on helping under-performing schools narrow the achievement gap, with special emphasis on math and science, convinced theFederal Way and Seattle Public Schools districts to sign on. 

Teach for America says it expects to place about 35 teachers in the region next fall, with hopes to get to the original goal of 50 if it can secure additional funding and contracts with more school districts. 

Federal Way has guaranteed slots for four of the organization's recruits. Seattle Public Schools will allow as many as 25 Teach for America candidates to compete for open positions. The program will be partially underwritten by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.

According to Seattle Times Education reporter Linda Shaw, Teach for America says talks are still underway with Tacoma Public Schools, the Renton School District, and Franklin Pierce School District.  Twelve of its recruits have already been assigned to the region. The organization had a pilot program in Seattle in the mid 1990s, but this time wants to come back for good.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to