As “the stunningly successful nonprofit organization, Teach For America” (New York Times) celebrates its 20th anniversary, its founder Wendy Kopp issues a passionate and inspiring summation of what she and TFA corps members have learned: that educational inequity—the achievement gap—is a solvable problem, and that the key to solving it—in a single classroom, a school, or system-wide—is leadership.
For twenty years, Teach for America has been working to end educational inequity, sending some of our nation’s most promising college graduates to teach in some of our nation’s most under-resourced communities. TFA and its corps members know from experience that the contributing causes of the achievement gap—dysfunctional inner-city and rural economies, poor healthcare, broken families, among others—are daunting. But they have also come to the exciting realization that educational inequity is a solvable problem. Highly effective teachers are achieving transformational progress in their classrooms despite the obstacles; and the skills and strategies that make them highly effective are specific and identifiable.
In this inspiring, optimistic book, TFA’s founder and president Wendy Kopp shows concretely that the achievement gap can be closed, and delineates what it will take to close it. Through stories from classrooms and schools across America, she distills the key lessons TFA has learned from the experiences of 24,000 corps members. The heroism and hard work of an individual teacher can transform a child’s life. But to transform the educational experience and opportunities of all America’s children, and to ramp up the pace of change, individual teachers should be supported by schools, school systems, and policies dedicated to nurturing, fostering, and spreading their efforts.
America’s failure to educate millions of its children to enable them to fulfill their potential has always been an injustice. Given the challenges we face in a competitive global economy, it has also become a national crisis. This clarifying and passionate book is must reading for anyone involved in or concerned about education—as a teacher, student, administrator, policymaker, community activist, or parent.