Hillsborough County school leaders need to make good on a promise to dozens of graduating high school seniors looking to become local teachers in exchange for college scholarships.
Launched four years ago, the Urban Teaching Academy had a straightforward offer: Complete the program, and the county would arrange scholarships for tuition and books in exchange for these students coming back after college and serving for three years as teachers in inner-city schools. Some 31 students are set to graduate this year. Yet with the start of their freshman year in college only months away, the school district announced this week that the program had raised only about $20,000, hardly enough to cover the bills for these aspiring teachers.
This program is a wonderful opportunity for students who couldn't otherwise afford college to get an education and give back to their community. The district and its nonprofit fundraising arm, the Hillsborough Education Foundation, have a duty to hold up their end of the bargain. For many students, this program is an opportunity to be the first in their families to attend college and pursue an enriching career.
The district and the foundation are looking for money to meet their immediate obligations, and they have to avoid overpromising and underdelivering. These students and their families should not have to worry about hearing so late in the process that funds are short. A deal is a deal, and having home-grown teachers attuned to inner-city problems is a program worth keeping.