Of the many problems facing the United States today, one of the most widespread-- but yet fixable--is the achievement gap between students in rural and low-income areas compared to more affluent ones.

It is a simple fact that many students' educational destinies are shaped simply by where they live and their socioeconomic status.

According to Teach For America, students growing up in low-income areas are seven times less likely to graduate from college than children in high-income areas.

A Teach For America corps member teaching class

There are varying beliefs about how to fix the problem. Some argue that better funding will solve the education system's woes. Some argue that more stringent certification standards for teachers will. But while pundits argue the source of the educational system's woes, a number of groups have emerged to tackle this problem immediately.

One of the most successful initiatives is a program called Teach For America. Like a domestic version of the Peace Corps, it calls on standout recent college graduates - without formal training in education - to commit to teach for two years in one of 22 cities around the country.

The teachers, who statistically are more effective than other first-year teachers, then choose to either stay in education or move on, armed with their experience and a drive to close the achievement gap.

This site was created by Andy Lewis for MMC 3260