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Top graduates teach to the poor in attempt to tackle education disparities

"I think I'm like a lot of people who know they want to do something meaningful before they start their careers." says Lucas E. Nikkel, a recent Dartmouth graduate and one of nearly 2,2000 participants in the Teach for America program, which according to the NY Times

sends recent college graduates into poor rural and urban schools for two years for the same pay and benefits as other beginning teachers at those schools. (...)

Teach for America officials believe that the program's recruitment success is a sign of the "post-9/11 generation's commitment to public service" and reflects "college students' belief that education disparities are our generation's civil rights issue." Teach for America attracts many graduates from top colleges

who want to contribute to improving society while keeping their options open, building an ever-more impressive résumé and delaying long-term career decisions. (...) Teach for America grew out of a senior thesis by Wendy Kopp, a Princeton student, proposing a national teacher corps. Ms. Kopp quickly got seed money from Exxon Mobil, then, with a small staff, began a grass-roots recruitment campaign that yielded 500 fledgling teachers, who were placed in six regions in 1990.

Evaluations of the Teach for America members' performances are not so impressive. Besides, while they make a great effort for two years, the general education problem continues:

Teaching does not pay much. It is not glamorous. And the qualifications of most young people going into the field are less than impressive. A report by the National Council on Teacher Quality last year said that the profession attracts "a disproportionately high number of candidates from the lower end of the distribution of academic ability."

Meanwhile in Germany: Two students at the University of Saarland have designed a coaster that can tell servers when someone needs a refill. The device senses the weight of a beer mug placed on it and signals to the bar when one is close to empty.