Wendy Kopp Predicts the Future of Education
Question: How should Americans change the way they think about education?
Kopp: I guess I ultimately think we need to reach the point where not just a few of our nation’s leaders but many, many, many of them understand what you understand after you’ve taught successfully in a low income community, which is a couple of things. One, it’s just, you understand we can solve the problem, because once you realize that, then you realize we have to prioritize the issue and work relentlessly to actually reach the goal of solving the problem. The other thing is, I think you come out of this experience of teaching successfully rejecting any silver bullet theory. So, you come in and you think, it’s funding, or it’s maybe technology or it’s a curricular approach or whatever, and many people in our country are still searching for the silver bullet. You come out of this realizing, okay, it’s no one thing. It is everything. You know, there are no shortcuts, to quote a crew of our folks who have started this very high performing charter schools, the KIPP Academies. It’s about doing everything while just in the same way that success in any other sector. We always know in business, in government, whatever, it’s about doing everything well, you know? And I think that is a fundamental difference, so when I think about, for example, what’s happening in Washington DC right now, where, you know, a very courageous mayor assumed responsibility for the school system and appointed Michelle Rea, who’s a Teach For America alum, to run the school system. You know, the majority of her senior team are Teach For America alums, a growing percentage of the school principals, 10% and growing, including the principals of the fastest improving and highest performing schools are Teach For America alums, and what unites that crew is those two things, like, they are working with a level of conviction and a level of relentlessness that is hard to find, and, at the same time, you know, they’ve put all the basics at the center of their agenda. So, knowing that it’s not any one curriculum or it’s not any one, like, there’s no magic solution out there, they’ve said, you know what? Most fundamentally, this is about people, so we need to do everything we can to ensure that we have the most talented teachers, the most talented principals, the most talented school district officials. They’ve put that at the center of their agenda. They believe that those folks need to hold themselves accountable for results and continuously improve over time. I mean, it sounds mundane, but that is the name of the game, you know? And so, I guess what inspires me to your question around scale is realizing that every person in that picture and all of the Teach For America alums in various other communities where they’re at the center of real momentum around reform really came in to Teach For America in the ‘90s, our first decade, when in the whole decade we produced 3500 Teach For America alums. So, the fact that we’re at the point now where, you know, well over, we’ll bring in 4,000 core members this year alone, and I just think, gosh, you know, what will we be talking about five and ten years from now? I really believe we’re going to reach a point where we have a critical mass of leaders working from within education and also, really importantly, from outside of education as well, because as much as we’ll never solve the problem without long term committed, sustained leadership from within, we’ll never solve the problem if we don’t have a policy context and a kind of, I mean, think about the influence of our journalists and of our business leaders. If we don’t have folks in influence in other sectors who also share a deep understanding of the problem and of the solutions.
Teach for America Founder Wendy Kopp on the future of schools.
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
In his final years, Martin Luther King, Jr. become increasingly focused on the problem of poverty in America.
- Despite being widely known for his leadership role in the American civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. also played a central role in organizing the Poor People's Campaign of 1968.
- The campaign was one of the first to demand a guaranteed income for all poor families in America.
- Today, the idea of a universal basic income is increasingly popular, and King's arguments in support of the policy still make a good case some 50 years later.
She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.
- For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
- These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
- Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
For Damien Echols, tattoos are part of his existential armor.
- In prison Damien Echols was known by his number SK931, not his name, and had his hair sheared off. Stripped of his identity, the only thing he had left was his skin.
- This is why he began tattooing things that are meaningful to him — to carry a "suit of armor" made up the images of the people and objects that have significance to him, from his friends to talismans.
- Echols believes that all places are imbued with divinity: "If you interact with New York City as if there's an intelligence behind... then it will behave towards you the same way."
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.