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Donna Foote, In the Urban-Education Trenches

Starting in the fall of 2005, former Newsweek correspondent Donna Foote spent the academic year at Los Angeles' Locke High School, following four fresh-out-of-college recruits in the Teach for America program.

An 18-year-old initiative that dispatches some of the nation's best and brightest on two-year teaching assignments in struggling urban schools, Teach for America has become both a subject of contention — with critics arguing that its corps of neophyte teachers come unprepared and contribute to teacher turnover — and the focus of intense competition, with nearly 20,000 graduates from America's top colleges applying each year for 2,000 posts in the nation's neediest schools.

In Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches With Teach for America, Foote documents the experiences of that TFA foursome, asking in the process what works and what's flawed about a program that even skeptics acknowledge is the most ambitious of its kind.

Fresh Air's book critic has a review.

Copyright 2022 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Maureen Corrigan, book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism at Georgetown University. She is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers (Scribner) and the winner of the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America. In 2019, Corrigan was awarded the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing by the National Book Critics Circle.