Mon March 21, 2011
"What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All"
By Rich Fisher
Tulsa, Oklahoma – On today's show, we feature an in-depth discussion about both the trends and the techniques that currently define successful public-school education in America. Our guest on ST is Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach for America, which is currently celebrating its twentieth anniversary. Kopp's new book (now available from Public Affairs) is called "A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All." As a reviewer of this book has noted in Booklist: "Now in its twentieth year, with more than 8,000 members teaching across the nation and an alumni influencing educational policy and challenging public schools, Teach for America has earned a respected place in the debate on educational reform. Founder Kopp offers a perspective on lessons learned as she spotlights particularly effective teachers and techniques that have helped poor children from under-performing schools to exceed standards and get into college. Following profiles of teachers and schools, she offers lessons that are widely applicable, including the imperative to set high expectations for children from low-income families and a commitment to organizational change. Kopp defends TFA and programs developed by its alumni from charges of cherry-picking students and against the members' short-term commitment (two years, though 60 percent exceed that minimum) and argues passionately for transformational change that includes children across the nation, regardless of race or class. She cautions against looking for silver bullets (charter schools) or 'silver scapegoats' (unmotivated students), arguing that there are no simple solutions but a collection of many multi-layered answers, some combination of which will work in every school."