UT Teach for America hosts screening of documentary ‘Teach Us All’

Michael Hankins

With 58 graduates joining Teach for America in 2017, UT is tied with UCLA as the top contributing campus.

Teach for America at UT Austin hosted a screening of the documentary film, “Teach Us All” on Monday. The national organization seeks to promote educational equity by recruiting college students to become teachers in low-income communities. The program itself is two years long, during which college graduates are trained as teachers and work directly with students in public schools. Jorge Galan, the Director of University Partnerships and Recruitment at Teach for America, explained what kind of students his program is looking for.

Galan said Teach for America seeks to create a system of equal opportunity so young people can achieve success regardless of their background.

“It’s very apparent in our country that where you live, how much money you have and what you look like determines your opportunities as far as your education and career,” Galan said. “With Teach for America, we believe that in order for this system to change, we need to have the right leaders who have the experience to drive that change.”

Jake Polansky, a supply chain management senior and UT campus ambassador for Teach for America, offered insight into his experience with his organization. Polansky said as a student ambassador, he tries to spread Teach for America’s mission of promoting education.

“I basically try to get young kids like us as excited about education as I am,” Polansky said.

The featured documentary, “Teach Us All”, consists of a collection of interviews with school administrators, civil rights activists and low-income students and their families. According to the documentary, segregation is still alive and well in America’s public schools system, largely stemming from income inequality that determines the quality of education that students receive. The documentary said change starts with better educators.

Civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez said in the documentary that as a child her school was racially segregated and thus education quality was worse than schools with white students. Mendez said although schools are not segregated by law, the disparities are still there.       

“We have completely gone around in a circle,” Mendez said. “One thing that we do need in our schools is better teachers — teachers that are more caring about the students.”