The founder of Teach for America details the lessons learned during the organization's twenty-year existence and explains how the achievement gap in U.S. education can be closed.
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.