Letters to the editor

h2. Teach for America could change someone’s life

As a history major at the University, I dreamed of becoming a lawyer to practice education law, ensuring that no student would be denied the right to an excellent education. Then, my senior year, I learned about Teach For America and discovered a way I could have an immediate impact on the educational inequity that limits the life prospects of too many kids growing up in poverty.

As a Teach For America corps member, I taught on a New Mexico Navajo reservation. My students had limitless potential, but systemic poverty coupled with a lack of excellent educational opportunities was holding them back from fulfilling it.

Their story is all too common among students growing up in low-income communities. The gap in educational opportunity is evident by kindergarten and widens over time. By the fourth grade, students growing up in poverty are three grade levels behind, and half won’t graduate from high school. Only one in 10 will attend college and, for those lacking a college degree, many doors are firmly shut.

Alongside my colleagues, I worked relentlessly to help my students get back on track. Many had started the year up to four grade-levels behind, but they made, on average, two years of academic growth in just one school year. They decisively proved that the achievement gap is a solvable problem.

After teaching for three years, I joined Teach For America’s staff and now lead our Colorado region as executive director. This year, more than 900 Teach For America corps members and alumni are working to ensure every Colorado student, regardless of family income, has access to an excellent education.

I can think of no project more impactful that a recent college graduate can undertake than shaping the lives of a classroom of students. Our kids only get one shot at a good education. Without a quality K-12 experience, they won’t have the opportunity to become a part of the Orange Crush and experience a world-class University of Illinois education. Be a leader for the next generation of Illini. Visit www.teachforamerica.org to learn more or start your application.

Teach for America’s final application deadline is Feb. 10

_Sean VanBerschot, 2001 University of Illinois alumnus and executive director of Teach For America in Colorado_

h2. It’s time to let Weber go so team can force its own tempo

My name is Tony Owen. I live presently in Westerville, Ohio, but grew up in Chicago. I’m 64 years old and have been an Illini basketball fan for 45 years … Just what is going on this year? Sunday was the last straw, playing a thin-rostered and not very athletic Northwestern team at home. Instead of letting our athletes run and force the tempo (has Weber seen Kentucky play?), our coach plays a slowdown game right into the hands of the opposition. Has he lost control of the team or is he just getting out-coached? This is after getting beat by a poor Penn State team (again). I realize we beat Ohio State, but 0.500 in the Big Ten is just not good enough. I get sick when I watch our team underachieve. It’s time, in my opinion, to get rid of Weber and get a coach who lets his players play to the best of their ability, not to the best of the opponents’ ability.

_Tony Owen, resident of Westerville, Ohio_