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Eubanks questions impact of Peterson’s $1 million Teach For America donation

Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro) described the Peterson Family Foundation’s decision to donate $1 million to Teach for America D.C. Region for Prince George’s as a “way to move [the county] forward.”

Schools chief Kevin M. Maxwell said during Monday’s announcement that the school system “can not be as successful as we should be without your partnership.”

But Prince George’s County School Board Chairman Segun Eubanks this week had a slightly different reaction than most to the $1 million donation to recruit, train and support corp members in Prince George’s County.

Like others, Eubanks said he was grateful for the donation, but he questioned the impact the gift will really have in the county that has long struggled with improving its schools.

“It’s just a short-term solution to a shortage problem,” he said, noting that the young college graduates who are brought in by Teach For America generally leave after they finish their two-year assignment. “Montgomery County and other districts don’t use Teach For America for a reason. . . It’s not going to move us to excellence.”

Eubanks said he would prefer if Teach For America was considering implementing its new pilot program in Prince George’s.

Last week, TFA announced that it will offer recruits a year of classes in educational theory and pedagogy, along with hands-on classroom experience, while they are still in college and before they begin teaching full-time. TFA will also offer support for alumni who continue teaching for up to five years.

“We can’t be the training ground,” Eubanks said. “We have to be a destination school district if we are going to continue to improve.”

Teach For America D.C. Region has had a partnership with Prince George’s since 2007. This year, 100 teachers are working in 39 schools in the county.

Milton V. Peterson, the owner of National Harbor and a member of the Peterson Foundation, announced the foundation’s gift on Monday at William W. Hall Academy in Capitol Heights. Four members of the school’s staff participated in Teach For America, including the school principal, MenSa Ankh Maa.

Matthew Robinson, a first-year TFA teacher at William W. Hall, said his time in front of the classroom has solidified his decision to pursue education, instead of medicine as a career.

“I want students to know they can attend college and deserve an education,” Robinson said. “So many of our students don’t feel like they deserve it.”

Ovetta Wiggins covers Maryland state politics in Annapolis.



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