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A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All

Overview

Since 1990, Teach For America has been building a movement to end educational inequity in America. Now its founder, Wendy Kopp, shares the lessons learned from the experiences of more than 25,000 teachers and alumni who have taught and led schools in low-income communities during those years. A Chance to Make History cuts through the noise of today’s debates to describe precisely what it will take to provide transformational education—education that changes the academic and life trajectories predicted ...

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A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All

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Overview

Since 1990, Teach For America has been building a movement to end educational inequity in America. Now its founder, Wendy Kopp, shares the lessons learned from the experiences of more than 25,000 teachers and alumni who have taught and led schools in low-income communities during those years. A Chance to Make History cuts through the noise of today’s debates to describe precisely what it will take to provide transformational education—education that changes the academic and life trajectories predicted by children’s socioeconomic backgrounds.
 
Sharing her experiences in some of the country’s most underserved communities, Kopp introduces leaders at the classroom, school, and system levels who, driven by passionate belief in their students’ potential, have set out to accomplish what most think impossible. Their inspiring stories show how we can provide children facing all the challenges of poverty with an excellent education, and that doing so involves the same ingredients that account for success in any endeavor: visionary leadership that sets ambitious goals and puts forth the energy and discipline to reach them.
 
Kopp’s experiences and insights also shine light on why we have not made more progress against educational inequity—how and why the intense but misguided quest for easy answers actually distracts from the hard work of expanding on the growing pockets of success in low-income communities—and on what we need to do now to increase the pace of change.
 
America’s failure to educate millions of children to fulfill their potential is a crisis that strikes at our fundamental ideals and health as a nation. A Chance to Make History offers tangible evidence that we can change direction and provide all children the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Now celebrating its 20th year, the Teach for America initiative encourages recent college graduates to contract two years of K thru 12 teaching in high-poverty. Against early expectations, many of these fledgling instructors did not burnout on the experience; in fact, they continued their teaching stints, benefiting both themselves and their new adopted communities. In A Chance to Make History, Teach for America founder and president Wendy Kopp (One Day, All Children) and vice president Steve Farr (Teaching as Leadership) share inspiring real-life stories about how even in these difficult days, educational inequality can be defeated one classroom at a time.

Denise Duarte

From the Publisher
“Kopp’s insistence on aiming high should make it required reading for all professional educators.”
Kirkus

“Kate Mulligan does a fine job narrating . . . [her voice] fits the serious topic being discussed. . . . This book is for educators or anyone who has a deep interest in improving our educational system.”
AudioFile

Library Journal
On the heels of the 20th anniversary of Teach for America (www.teachforamerica.org), the international nonprofit's founder and president, Kopp (One Day, All Children), and vice president, Farr (Teaching as Leadership), describe largely through anecdotes the successes of the renowned program that began as a grassroots initiative with the lofty goal of ending educational inequality in the United States. With recent college graduates encouraged to contract two years of K-12 teaching in high-poverty schools, many of the program's participants have stayed on for longer; many others have made education, education reform, or educational leadership their unexpected career path. The authors maintain that the secret to the organization's transformational results are hard work, dedication, the recruitment of outside resources, and an unshakable belief in the potential of the children they teach. Kate Mulligan narrates in a pleasantly clear and straightforward manner. For education and social science policy collections. ["Sure to inspire both current and future teachers," read the review of the PublicAffairs hc, LJ Xpress Reviews, 12/24/10.—Ed.]—J. Sara Paulk, Wythe-Grayson Regional Lib., Independence, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Anoptimistic narrative about school reform from an author with an unusual perspective.

Kopp (One Day, All Children...: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way, 2001) founded Teach for America 20 years ago, and currently serves as its chief executive. Because of her vision, tens of thousands of young men and women decided to instruct the neediest children in schools across the United States, both in decaying urban cores and isolated rural areas. Despite—orpossibly because of—their lack of teacher training within colleges, those trained by Kopp tend to improve classroom learning. The author mostly remains in the background as she distills lessons learned from Teach for America enrollees. Although numerous attitudes and skills constitute superb teaching, perhaps the foremost attribute is the belief that disadvantaged children can learn well enough to attend college. Then it becomes a matter of persuading those children about what they can achieve. As Kopp seems to be veering into the never-never land of outsized optimism, she reins herself in by showing how far most schools need to travel todeliver on thepromise ofa first-class education for every student. A large percentage of the author's examples derive from New Orleans, where school administrators started fresh after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina; Washington, D.C., during the controversial tenure of superintendent Michelle Rhea; and New York City, where Mayor Michael Bloomberg and schools chief Joel Klein refused to believe that good was good enough. Kopp labels the desirable educators "transformational teachers." She has observed many such educators, especially those she knows from Teach for America, and interviewed many of them while composing this book. Transformational teachers tend to raise the overall learning abilities and standardized test scores of every student in the classroom, despite the seeming improbability of such an outcome. However, Kopp emphasizes that there are no shortcuts. Even the most successful teachers need time, counted in years, to hone their leadership skills and sell their ways of functioning to suspicious, by-the-book administrators.

No matter the real-world glitches in her proposals, Kopp's insistence on aiming high should make it required reading for all professional educators.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781610391047
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 292,334
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

WENDY KOPP is the founder and president of Teach For America. She lives in New York City.

KATE MULLIGAN is currently an acting company member with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Prior to her arrival in Ashland, Oregon, she worked at theaters all over Los Angeles and New York, including a nearly 20-year stint with Tim Robbins and his company The Actors’ Gang. Kate has been seen in countless commercials and television shows such as Seinfeld, Desperate Housewives, ER, Judging Amy, Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and The Practice. Her grandmother was with the Ziegfeld Follies and her dad was the original writer/creator of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In.

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