While President Barack Obama currently has a lot of issues he’s trying to resolve, the one he keeps emphasizing the importance of education. That is why it’s so puzzling that Teach for America — an organization that puts recent college graduates in teaching positions in low-income communities — is losing about $20 million in funding as a result of Obama’s new budget. Without proper funding, the reach of the number of graduates TFA can employ and the number of schools it can help will be drastically limited.

Cuts are inevitable. They’re happening everywhere and to everyone — including the University — but like Washington Post reporter Richard Cohen wrote in a Feb. 15 article, “The federal budget, now $3.8 trillion, will never be balanced by trimming this or that program.” Not only will cuts to TFA do minimal damage to the deficit, but the program is too valuable for Washington to allow it to be sacrificed.

TFA is an extremely unique program that equally benefits students and teachers. With the unemployment rate still above 9 percent, jobs for college graduates aren’t exactly plentiful. TFA provides college graduates with a rare opportunity to receive real-world work experience before being thrust into a competitive job market.

There are also a variety of benefits for the schools and students in the districts that TFA works in. TFA teachers are well educated and positively contribute to the communities that they enter. TFA sends college graduates all over the country to schools that are in desperate need of help and otherwise couldn’t afford full-time educators. The proposed cuts to the program would take away more than 400 TFA teachers and put a huge dent in what the program can accomplish. Schools and students need the expertise and knowledge that TFA teachers have to offer, and taking that away would be a deterrent to public education in the country. Education is already below par by many standards, and by decreasing resources for TFA, Washington is only moving in the wrong direction in fixing this problem.

The program is particularly popular in Ann Arbor. Many University students rely on TFA for a post-graduation job and are able to take their experiences from college to schools that need them. In 2008, the University had the highest number of applicants to the TFA program. And according to a May 9, 2010 Michigan Daily article, 7 percent of the University’s 2009 graduating class applied for the program. Additionally, last spring, the University partnered with the program to bring a TFA chapter to Detroit. It’s clear that University students are dedicated, and dependent, on this program.

Obama needs to recognize how important TFA is for college students and public schools. It simultaneously employs recent graduates and strengthens schools that are in need. Cutting funding to TFA goes against everything Obama has said about the importance of education for the nation’s future.

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