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Teach for America helps charter movement

New York Teacher

The Walton Family Foundation, created by the founder of Walmart, failed to reveal that its $20 million grant to Teach For America in 2013 to recruit and train nearly 4,000 teachers for low-income schools had unusual terms intended to boost charter schools.

The foundation, which is Teach For America’s largest private funder, was paying $4,000 for every teacher placed in a traditional public school — and $6,000 for every one placed in a charter school, according to an investigative report by ProPublica. The two-year grant was directed at nine cities where charter schools were sprouting up, including New Orleans; Memphis, Tennessee; and Los Angeles.

The grant coincided with a shift in the direction of Teach for America, a nonprofit organization founded to alleviate teacher shortages in traditional public schools. Although only 7 percent of students nationwide attend charter schools, Teach For America sent almost 40 percent of its 6,736 teachers to them in 2018 — up from 34 percent in 2015 and 13 percent in 2008.

“There’s no question that Teach For America as it evolved became joined at the hip to a large degree with the national education reform movement,” said Jeffrey Henig, a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia University.

ProPublica, June 18