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One Day, All Children...: The Unlikely Triumph Of Teach For America And What I Learned Along The Way

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From her dorm room at Princeton University, twenty-one-year-old college senior Wendy Kopp decided to launch a movement to improve public education in America. In One Day, All Children... , she shares the remarkable story of Teach For America, a non-profit organization that sends outstanding college graduates to teach for two years in the most under-resourced urban and rura From her dorm room at Princeton University, twenty-one-year-old college senior Wendy Kopp decided to launch a movement to improve public education in America. In One Day, All Children... , she shares the remarkable story of Teach For America, a non-profit organization that sends outstanding college graduates to teach for two years in the most under-resourced urban and rural public schools in America. The astonishing success of the program has proven it possible for children in low-income areas to attain the same level of academic achievement as children in more privileged areas and more privileged schools. One Day, All Children… is not just a personal memoir. It's a blueprint for the new civil rights movement--a movement that demands educational access and opportunity for all American children.


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From her dorm room at Princeton University, twenty-one-year-old college senior Wendy Kopp decided to launch a movement to improve public education in America. In One Day, All Children... , she shares the remarkable story of Teach For America, a non-profit organization that sends outstanding college graduates to teach for two years in the most under-resourced urban and rura From her dorm room at Princeton University, twenty-one-year-old college senior Wendy Kopp decided to launch a movement to improve public education in America. In One Day, All Children... , she shares the remarkable story of Teach For America, a non-profit organization that sends outstanding college graduates to teach for two years in the most under-resourced urban and rural public schools in America. The astonishing success of the program has proven it possible for children in low-income areas to attain the same level of academic achievement as children in more privileged areas and more privileged schools. One Day, All Children… is not just a personal memoir. It's a blueprint for the new civil rights movement--a movement that demands educational access and opportunity for all American children.

30 review for One Day, All Children...: The Unlikely Triumph Of Teach For America And What I Learned Along The Way

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    It isn’t clear to me who might find this book interesting. The author set up Teach for America – an incredibly successful teacher recruitment organisation that has been fated by politicians from all sides of politics in the US and across continents. Now, that ought to have made a terribly interesting story – but this is as dull as dishwater. At least two-thirds of the book relates to how and when she received various donations to keep the organisation going. There was zero interest in this at al It isn’t clear to me who might find this book interesting. The author set up Teach for America – an incredibly successful teacher recruitment organisation that has been fated by politicians from all sides of politics in the US and across continents. Now, that ought to have made a terribly interesting story – but this is as dull as dishwater. At least two-thirds of the book relates to how and when she received various donations to keep the organisation going. There was zero interest in this at all – even if you are particularly fond of finding out about people giving donations to organisations (a kind of ‘train spotting’ for philanthropists, perhaps) even so I suspect the most dedicated money watcher would struggle with the excessive detail here. I keep thinking that the focus on finances would be a bit like me telling you about the wonderful holiday I’d just had and then giving excessive details of every bowel movement I’d had while away. I’m not saying that going to the toilet isn’t important, I can’t imagine I would live for too long without going to the toilet, but however important in fact to the overall experience of my holiday my toilet habits might have been, I’m not sure they would make an interesting story. And the ‘and then I needed $75,000 so I phoned someone and after a bit of discussion they agreed to put that money in our bank account in the nick of time’ quickly became the financial equivalent of ‘these are my holiday toileting experiences’. This ought to have been much more interesting than it was. You might think that if someone was motivated enough to set up an alternative teacher recruitment program designed to put high achieving young people in classrooms as teachers for two years, you might learn about why they might think that would be a good idea, why these people might know more about training teachers than – well, you know, teacher trainers. One of the things you notice immediately is that regular teachers are invariably discussed as if they were a main cause of the problem of the grossly unequal US education system. She mentions ‘research’ that shows Teach for America teachers are as or more effective than other teachers, but there is also lots of research that shows the opposite and this is rarely mentioned and certainly not refuted. She is clearly very upset with the criticism her program received from Linda Darling-Hammond – but while she says this criticism was printed in a peer reviewed journal and that she had many and detailed concerns with Darling-Hammond’s criticisms, she barely responds to this, other than in expressing her hurt. The book constantly refers to research the organisation does to improve its program, but none of this is ever detailed, nor does it appear to have been entered into the peer reviewed research journals – presumably, and I’m guessing here, because it is viewed as ‘commercial in confidence’. That is the thing – Teach for America sits uncomfortably between being a ‘mission’ that seeks to end social inequality in education in the US, a business to make money out of placing teachers in various schools, a minimalist teacher training program, and a political pressure group. Of these, as this book makes clear, its founder was much more interested in those lobbying aspects of the role and less directly concerned with teachers in schools – something that otherwise would seem to be the organisation’s ‘core business’. Perhaps this was inevitable – but it still struck me as quite bizarre. Something I read a while ago made a telling point in that most of the early theorists looking at how we should educate the young had never, in fact, been involved in educating the young – something similarly true of Kopp. And as such they all tended to be ‘revolutionaries’. That is, nothing that came before them could be of the least use – it needed to be torn down and replaced in total. Such disrespect hardly even occurs to revolutionaries as being disrespectful. I think this is one of the reasons why Kopp was so taken aback by Darling-Hammond’s criticism of her organisation and her revolution – she probably believed that the world of education should have been overjoyed to learn that what they had been doing and believing for centuries was all wrong and needed to be completely replaced – even if the person saying it all needed replaced hadn’t quite yet worked out what ought to replace it all. Wasn’t it obvious that all you needed to do was have some passionate young people from good, solid middle-class backgrounds to transform the education of the poor? Isn’t it clear that everything about the lives of the poor is so dysfunctional that a transformative culture needs to be imposed on these people from without, that the most respectful thing you can do is to also tear their worlds down and start anew? That is the message that comes out of this book time and again. All previous teachers and education theory is self-evidently wrong – there is nothing to learn – we must start anew. Pedagogy is so much bunkum, we must bring ‘leadership’ and ‘management’ theory into schools. Poor people are poor, not because of systemic racism, classism or structural inequalities, but because they haven’t been properly taught how to behave in a way that will bring them success – that is, they will only be successful when they mirror the lifestyles of the successful. They are (and their lives are) a series of deficits that nice white or middle class black people will be able to ‘fix’. It struck me as incredibly strange that Kopp couldn’t see how patronising she was being throughout this book when she addressed her program’s ‘successes’. Or how quickly the goal posts would be moved if her strategies actually started threatening the reproduction of advantage enjoyed by the nice middle class people helping the poor and disenfranchised. Chapter 10 of this book is probably the only one I would suggest you read if you want to get some sort of overview of what Teach for America is about, but don’t actually want to read chapter after chapter on fund-raising. Here she documents what makes a good teacher and a good school – essentially, these are schools that have ‘a big vision’, that work their teachers into the ground in a ‘burn-and-churn’ two year stint (something she herself admits a couple of times in this chapter as being unsustainable) and that fundamental change will only come when the leaders of tomorrow (that is, the high achieving young people from top end universities she dumps into poor schools) move into positions of leadership (in schools, in government and so on) and are then finally able to really help the poor by directing more resources toward poor schools. As she says at one point, “I don’t believe we’ll be able to fully realize our vision of educational equality until we as a nation invest disproportionately in education in low-income areas”. All of which made me think the Teach for America model is back-to-front. The crushing expectations placed on corps members (the name given to Teach for America teachers) might well give them a view of what education is about – but it isn’t clear they would come out of that experience with the means to transform the policy world so as to redirect funding towards schools servicing the poor. Or that this was the most obvious way to achieve this if it was your aim. And given Teach for America is now over 25 years old and school funding has been flowing away from these schools, then surely it is time to question the ‘success’ of such a program. This reads like a very American story. Think about what it means to say of your project that it has been an ‘unlikely triumph’ – I mean, using ‘triumph’ without irony about yourself is a terribly American thing to me. What does it say when you never address criticisms of your project other than by referencing selective examples others can’t really check? Like I said at the beginning of this review, it isn’t at all clear to me why anyone would read this book – there is more discussion here about how to set up a business than there is about what teachers need to know before they enter a classroom. That strikes me as a very odd thing for a book about an organisation called Teach for America.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Judy Cox

    This book is a case study on how you can put your ideas into action and give back to the community/world. The author is a remarkable young woman who put her all into building a nonprofit organization that recruited some of the best and brightest college graduates to become teachers and work in schools in the most underprivileged and underserved communities of America. It's packed with details of her extraordinary fundraising efforts, her incredible courage and determination and how Teach for Amer This book is a case study on how you can put your ideas into action and give back to the community/world. The author is a remarkable young woman who put her all into building a nonprofit organization that recruited some of the best and brightest college graduates to become teachers and work in schools in the most underprivileged and underserved communities of America. It's packed with details of her extraordinary fundraising efforts, her incredible courage and determination and how Teach for America is achieving success in raising the level of education of children in these impoverished communities. This is one of those books that inspires you to do something - to make a difference - to change the world.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lysia

    I'll be starting at TFA's National Headquarters in NYC on Jan 20th, and this was sent s an xmas gift to me by my new boss. I'm very excited! I'll be starting at TFA's National Headquarters in NYC on Jan 20th, and this was sent s an xmas gift to me by my new boss. I'm very excited!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christie Bane

    This was the just-okay story of how Wendy Kopp founded Teach for America. Wendy Kopp was about to graduated from Princeton when she found her vision. She wanted to create a service corp that would help to ensure that one day all American children, regardless of where they were born or how much money their families had, would have access to excellent education. The story of Teach for America doesn't have a lot of surprises. Things were tough in the beginning. They grew too quickly. They implemente This was the just-okay story of how Wendy Kopp founded Teach for America. Wendy Kopp was about to graduated from Princeton when she found her vision. She wanted to create a service corp that would help to ensure that one day all American children, regardless of where they were born or how much money their families had, would have access to excellent education. The story of Teach for America doesn't have a lot of surprises. Things were tough in the beginning. They grew too quickly. They implemented programs whether they had resources to maintain them or not. Wendy Kopp was so busy chasing down money to meet payroll that she didn't have any time to look at actual ground-level functioning. The organization had a learning curve and almost went under a few times, but eventually figured it out, and now is solidly entrenched in the U.S. education system (though never without its share of heavy criticism). I learned from this book that it is really impossible to run an organization of any size, no matter how valuable the mission, without incurring a lot of criticism. Therefore, if you're going to do it, you have to develop a thick skin and rely on the merit of your vision to carry you through. I also learned that there are some really impressive, dedicated teachers out there. If you're willing to work 15-hour days 7 days a week and make yourself available to students and their parents any time you're needed, you too can make an impact. This makes me kind of glad I didn't choose teaching as a career.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Megan Moss

    I’ve had the opportunity to listen and see Wendy Kopp in action because of my former line of work and she has really caused me to think about what leadership is. Wendy does not have booming voice or larger-than-life personality or ego. Instead, she is humble, meek, incredibly articulate and driven. I really believe that Teach For America would of only gotten off the ground and enjoyed the success it has had if she was at the head. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more of the history behi I’ve had the opportunity to listen and see Wendy Kopp in action because of my former line of work and she has really caused me to think about what leadership is. Wendy does not have booming voice or larger-than-life personality or ego. Instead, she is humble, meek, incredibly articulate and driven. I really believe that Teach For America would of only gotten off the ground and enjoyed the success it has had if she was at the head. I enjoyed reading this book and learning more of the history behind a non-profit that is extremely well run.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    I fully confess that I disparaged Teach for America in the past. Although I certainly admired their goal, I always had this sneaking feeling that the two year commitment was a drop in the bucket – a token gesture with little long-lasting impact on a very real social problem. But once I read by book Wendy Kopp, who in her senior year at Princeton defied the stereotype of the Ivy League grad, I realized just how wrong I was. Kopp did the unthinkable as a graduating senior at Princeton in the late 8 I fully confess that I disparaged Teach for America in the past. Although I certainly admired their goal, I always had this sneaking feeling that the two year commitment was a drop in the bucket – a token gesture with little long-lasting impact on a very real social problem. But once I read by book Wendy Kopp, who in her senior year at Princeton defied the stereotype of the Ivy League grad, I realized just how wrong I was. Kopp did the unthinkable as a graduating senior at Princeton in the late 80s: Begin her adult life by creating from scratch a non-profit organization called Teach for America (which first appeared as a grant proposal disguised as her senior thesis), whose aim is to supply the most socio-economically challenged public schools with America’s brightest college grads.* Although TFA corps members are only obligated to serve two years, her even bigger goal lies in her belief that by having thousands of America’s smartest grads (including many from top private and public universities), as well as those from high-economic backgrounds) participate for two years, they will forever carry within them the experiences of working in tough public schools. In effect, they will in their later, better-paying careers affect change not just through their pocket-books, but also through much-needed political action.** Interestingly enough, just over half of the participants never leave the teaching profession; with many of the others moving into other careers and professions that support the goals of ensuring equal access to a quality public education. While TFA is a well-regarded and respected organization today, it’s surprising that that Kopp’s dream could have collapsed at anytime after reading through all the day-to-day, week-to-week, and even year-to-year struggles which Kopp recounts in excruciating detail. In short, it is a near miracle that it even survived its first ten years. Ironically, it wasn’t until the late 90s that TFA became financially solvent. But only after some help from an unlikely source -- a consultant from Edison Schools, which runs for-profit charter schools. You see, Kopp was being wooed with a very attractive 100K starting salary (plus bonuses) to work for Edison, and TFA almost lost her after they helped her put her house in financial order in the hopes that she would feel confident enough to leave. Luckily for TFA (and us), Kopp declined the offer and remained earning a salary half as much. [For the record, both Kopp and her fellow TFA administrators and trainers earned as little or just a bit more than the average teacher’s salary in the first decade. How’s that for putting your money where you mouth is? Or better: Practicing what you preach.] As I write this, Kopp is still at the helm of TFA -- which is now at the end of its second decade of pushing for educational reform through both words and actions. It’s not very often you read about, or even run into, people like her. ___________________________ *As opposed to mentally-unbalanced religious nuts who brag on their Facebook profile that “Cs get degrees”, and who can’t write worth a damn. (Certainly not one of America’s finest or brightest.) Yes, those of you who suffered through all those “The Intern” installments know exactly whom I’m talking about here. **As my principal recently told me, it’s difficult for the average US senator – who usually has only a legal background – to really understand what goes right and wrong in our nation’s schools outside the sound-bites. And what better way is there to get those future lawyers -- and potential senators, even -- to get this experience than by participating in TFA.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Hunt

    As a potential applicant to Teach for America - I thought I should read up on the beginnings of this historic movement. I gave it 3 stars because my immediate response after reading the whole book was, "where did I did I put Kopp's other book?" I wanted more. I wanted more stories of teachers and their classrooms, I wanted more stories of students and their failures and successes. Kopp's story is unique and inspiring. I enjoyed the play-by-play: how her senior thesis was formed, how after turning As a potential applicant to Teach for America - I thought I should read up on the beginnings of this historic movement. I gave it 3 stars because my immediate response after reading the whole book was, "where did I did I put Kopp's other book?" I wanted more. I wanted more stories of teachers and their classrooms, I wanted more stories of students and their failures and successes. Kopp's story is unique and inspiring. I enjoyed the play-by-play: how her senior thesis was formed, how after turning it in she went promptly when to the library to research possible funders, how she built her team, how after hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of letters she managed to come up with $200,000 for payroll for two weeks and then started fundraising for the next payroll, how she survived the "coup de Kopp" (67), how she turned down a tempting job offer during one of Teach for America's lowest times, how she rallied the teachers (and how they rallied their students), how Kopp struggled and how she succeeded and and how she continues to learn today. "Far too many of the children we will encounter have decided that the American dream is an eternal nightmare. The monsters of educational failure have locked them into the dismal dens of ignorance and despair. They have internalized the low level of expectation and inferiority that many of this nation's school systems have designed and perpetuated for them... We should believe that we have as much to learn from our students as they have to learn from us. Each one of them has an experience...Each one of them has a story. We must learn that experience and listen to that story. For, embodied in these stories -embedded in these experiences - is the history of our nation and our world. Sometimes it will tell an unpleasant story. But it is one that we must contend with. Sometimes it will tell the story of the brutal boot of oppression that has trampled the culture and spirit of many marginalized groups in our country. Yet, until we face these truths, until we face these children, we can never begin to eradicate the wrongs that still exist...I challenge you to believe today" (54).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Aparna

    I came to this book after reading "Work Hard Be Nice" by Jay Mathews and "There are no Shortcuts" by Rafe Esquith. Through providing a thorough history of the Teach for America movement - describing its ups and downs - and evolution from a dream to a senior thesis, to a reality, Kopp not only inspires readers to take action to tackle the problem of education that exists in our country (and worldwide for that matter) but also provides one with a sense that any perceived problem, no matter HOW lar I came to this book after reading "Work Hard Be Nice" by Jay Mathews and "There are no Shortcuts" by Rafe Esquith. Through providing a thorough history of the Teach for America movement - describing its ups and downs - and evolution from a dream to a senior thesis, to a reality, Kopp not only inspires readers to take action to tackle the problem of education that exists in our country (and worldwide for that matter) but also provides one with a sense that any perceived problem, no matter HOW large can be tackled through determination, hard work, smart planning, and continuous improvement and learning. What I like best about this book is that it doesn't present a rosy-eyed vision of the movement. Being a TFA corps member is not about being a good, holy person and performing service to society. It is not about US (the teachers, staff, administrators, funders, etc), it is about THEM (the students). It's about whether or not the students are receiving the education that they deserve. Are we providing our nation's children with the skills they need to survive and thrive in today's fast growing marketplace? And if we're not, what can we do to change that? The costs are certainly not easy. It requires long hours of persistent work, patience, and perseverance and trials and obstacles and seeming dead-ends are all part of the process. But at the end of the day, the outcomes are worth it. Kopp makes you believe that this is possible, if we only put our minds to it. Definitely worth your time! As a college senior who needs to figure out where her life is headed next, I've been inspired to seriously consider TFA as a option for my post-undergraduate life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I'm glad that I put off reading this book until now, but I'm also glad that I read it. As someone who began teaching as part of Teach for America and kept teaching for eight years, I deeply indebted to Wendy's idea because it was the jumping off point for so many wonderful opportunities. If I'd read it sooner, I think I would have felt variously disheartened, pissed off, and grudgingly impressed. Now, knowing that I'm moving into a different sector, I can see that much of what has frustrated me I'm glad that I put off reading this book until now, but I'm also glad that I read it. As someone who began teaching as part of Teach for America and kept teaching for eight years, I deeply indebted to Wendy's idea because it was the jumping off point for so many wonderful opportunities. If I'd read it sooner, I think I would have felt variously disheartened, pissed off, and grudgingly impressed. Now, knowing that I'm moving into a different sector, I can see that much of what has frustrated me about TFA was either built into the mission intentionally or is linked to paradigms established in its inception. Parts of the TFA vision that were fine-tuned just as I was entering the corps, like how student-centered growth relies on setting up your classroom to address each of their needs rather than on trying to improve pedagogy, were so jumbled with the messages about learning to be a better teacher that I'm only accessing that part of my teaching now. A very small sliver of me wants to teach fourth graders in some failing school to see if I could put my knowledge of big people and good education to use, but I a much much bigger part of me is ready to move into a new field. As a book, it's well-written and self-reflective. It's both a quick read and a good road map for fixing problems with educational institutions and funding America's non-profit sector.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sheila Callahan

    In my heart, more than anything, I want to teach in an underserved school. I have always been totally inspired by teachers who are able to raise the level of opportunity for their students. One Day, All Children, Wendy Kopp's memoir of founding Teach for America, is filled with the stumbling blocks that the organization encountered. Her book at times is pumped up with suspense. For example, two days before 1000 incoming Teach for America candidates are about to convene for their training, the or In my heart, more than anything, I want to teach in an underserved school. I have always been totally inspired by teachers who are able to raise the level of opportunity for their students. One Day, All Children, Wendy Kopp's memoir of founding Teach for America, is filled with the stumbling blocks that the organization encountered. Her book at times is pumped up with suspense. For example, two days before 1000 incoming Teach for America candidates are about to convene for their training, the organization is $150,000 shy of the money to pay the bill that will allow them to use the university facilities. Will she manage to put the sum together? The book is laced with such moments. Finally, of course, she does garner the check, and ten years into its founding, when this book was written, TFA was on solid financial footing. In the end, Kopp recounts a litany of successes, including TFA alumni who continue beyond their two year service to turn around the lives of inner city and poor rural students.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sravanthi

    Teach for America!! - Never heard of it until I came across a job opportunity. Ended up going through the website and buying a book written by Wendy Kopp. She explained about what it took to take from nothing to something of Teach for America, the hassles, lessons learned and impact overall on the society. I have seen people walking around with pride who worked for Teach for America. The mission statement -"One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent edu Teach for America!! - Never heard of it until I came across a job opportunity. Ended up going through the website and buying a book written by Wendy Kopp. She explained about what it took to take from nothing to something of Teach for America, the hassles, lessons learned and impact overall on the society. I have seen people walking around with pride who worked for Teach for America. The mission statement -"One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education." is something very inspirational and people who work with Teach for America live by it. I cannot stop appreciating the guts she had when she started this mission. This book speaks about good times, hard times, funding challenges, improvements, finding the gap in public school system and encouraging the young people to teach in poverty stricken areas was something amazing any one would want to be part of. Overall, I felt this more of an factual than of a non-fiction book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    Not nearly as good as I had hoped. :( I was hoping to hear stories of the teachers and the kids... you know, to get all fired up for this school year! Instead, it was all about the money side of it and how fundraising was such an issue for Teach for America. When she FINALLY got around to describing the schools, she pretty much made the point that the successful teachers were the ones who gave every moment of every day to their class (staying late at night, coming early, extending the school day Not nearly as good as I had hoped. :( I was hoping to hear stories of the teachers and the kids... you know, to get all fired up for this school year! Instead, it was all about the money side of it and how fundraising was such an issue for Teach for America. When she FINALLY got around to describing the schools, she pretty much made the point that the successful teachers were the ones who gave every moment of every day to their class (staying late at night, coming early, extending the school day, visiting with students' families at night). Surely there has to be a way to impact disadvantaged families and kids without losing your entire life to the cause! I was glad to have made it to the end of this book...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I enjoyed learning about how Teach for America was started and everything that happened "behind the scenes" and the challenges they had to overcome. I think one of the best parts of the book is towards the end, however, when the author discusses some of the attitudes and attributes of Teach for America's most successful teachers. The latter part of the book also discusses what the author (the founder of Teach for America) learned about leading and managing a successful organization. I appreciate I enjoyed learning about how Teach for America was started and everything that happened "behind the scenes" and the challenges they had to overcome. I think one of the best parts of the book is towards the end, however, when the author discusses some of the attitudes and attributes of Teach for America's most successful teachers. The latter part of the book also discusses what the author (the founder of Teach for America) learned about leading and managing a successful organization. I appreciated reading about aspects of effective management and the effects of setting solid goals and working to achieve them.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ash

    This book is what made me realize that Teach for America was not for me, so I pulled out of the application program. I applied to a different alternative certification program, and I'm glad I went that route instead of TFA. This was not a book about what it's like to go through the TFA program, but instead a book about the politics, economics, and mission driving TFA. For the eye opener, it might deserve 5 stars. Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America by Donna Foote gi This book is what made me realize that Teach for America was not for me, so I pulled out of the application program. I applied to a different alternative certification program, and I'm glad I went that route instead of TFA. This was not a book about what it's like to go through the TFA program, but instead a book about the politics, economics, and mission driving TFA. For the eye opener, it might deserve 5 stars. Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America by Donna Foote gives a much better picture of what it's like to actually become a teacher through this program (or similar alt. cert. methods).

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carly

    I was given this book because I was recently hired by Teach for America as a Campus Campaign Coordinator. Since I knew I would be working for the organization adn recruiting others to apply, I found this book very interesting. However, I don't know how interesting someone who wasn't interested in Teach for America would find this book. It is an inpsiring story about this young woman who started out with a big idea and a thesis papers started what is now a major organization. It would probalby be I was given this book because I was recently hired by Teach for America as a Campus Campaign Coordinator. Since I knew I would be working for the organization adn recruiting others to apply, I found this book very interesting. However, I don't know how interesting someone who wasn't interested in Teach for America would find this book. It is an inpsiring story about this young woman who started out with a big idea and a thesis papers started what is now a major organization. It would probalby be a good book for those interested in non-profits or social entrepunership.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mozart

    This is not a book about education policy or the controversy that has followed TFA in good ways and bad. This is a book about a scrappy start up that was denied many times, failed a few times more, and figured out a way to bring into existence a massive national organization that is highly influential in any conversation about education. If you have an interest in social good startups or pursuing your vision and how hard it can be even when you have the "right" people and passion, this is a must This is not a book about education policy or the controversy that has followed TFA in good ways and bad. This is a book about a scrappy start up that was denied many times, failed a few times more, and figured out a way to bring into existence a massive national organization that is highly influential in any conversation about education. If you have an interest in social good startups or pursuing your vision and how hard it can be even when you have the "right" people and passion, this is a must read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    SC

    Although the prose gets a little dry in several areas, Wendy Kopp is a social entrepreneur, not a Salon editor. It shows, but it's still a great testament to how she started Teach for America, and the struggles she went through to prevent it from going under. The end result is very inspiring, and may motivate recent college grads to apply to the program to dedicate two years of their lives to teaching underprivileged children. Although the prose gets a little dry in several areas, Wendy Kopp is a social entrepreneur, not a Salon editor. It shows, but it's still a great testament to how she started Teach for America, and the struggles she went through to prevent it from going under. The end result is very inspiring, and may motivate recent college grads to apply to the program to dedicate two years of their lives to teaching underprivileged children.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Cathy

    I teach this and come back to it often. The story of how one college student created an organization to improve inner city educational performance by putting bright young college students into the worst schools to teach for 2 years. I have so many friends who have been TFA teachers, and I know Wendy well. Her story is very inspirational and really defines what it means to be a social entrepreneur.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I came to this book via the powerful and informative book "Work Hard, Be Nice," which is the story of how two Teach For America teachers started their own schools and, eventually, an entire movement. This book is not as inspiring or informative, but it was a quick read and an interesting insight into the management challenges of being a "social entrepreneur," as well as giving a glimpse into what is wrong with education today and why so few change the world. I came to this book via the powerful and informative book "Work Hard, Be Nice," which is the story of how two Teach For America teachers started their own schools and, eventually, an entire movement. This book is not as inspiring or informative, but it was a quick read and an interesting insight into the management challenges of being a "social entrepreneur," as well as giving a glimpse into what is wrong with education today and why so few change the world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marilyn

    On a bit of an "all things Teach For America" kick at my house. This is the quintessential book on how to conceive a dream, craft a plan to fulfill a dream, and then drive your dream to the top. Sometimes it got a little too "needed money, found money, needed more, found more", but I was fascinated by it nevertheless. If you are like I was a few months ago and had just heard of Teach For America in passing, you owe it to yourself to get educated on it!! Do yourself a favor. On a bit of an "all things Teach For America" kick at my house. This is the quintessential book on how to conceive a dream, craft a plan to fulfill a dream, and then drive your dream to the top. Sometimes it got a little too "needed money, found money, needed more, found more", but I was fascinated by it nevertheless. If you are like I was a few months ago and had just heard of Teach For America in passing, you owe it to yourself to get educated on it!! Do yourself a favor.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    the only reason i can think for someone to read this is if they want to know how to get into teach for america. i guess it's an interesting case study of the creation of a successful non-profit (depending on how you define successful, lol). but basically it is a platform for wendy kopp to insist at how hard she worked to make TFA what it is and to distract from the fact that SHE HAS NEVER BEEN IN THE CLASSROOM. not that i have a resentment or anything the only reason i can think for someone to read this is if they want to know how to get into teach for america. i guess it's an interesting case study of the creation of a successful non-profit (depending on how you define successful, lol). but basically it is a platform for wendy kopp to insist at how hard she worked to make TFA what it is and to distract from the fact that SHE HAS NEVER BEEN IN THE CLASSROOM. not that i have a resentment or anything

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cristiana

    Fascinating. Enjoyed but sometimes cringed at this brutally honest account of starting Teach for America. Interesting to hear how her thought process changed over time and to gain real insight on how Kopp was able to get response (meaning, $$$) from world players in the early 90's. Driven solely by a vision - I don't know whether I'd have had the courage to follow through with such intensity, but then again, she had rallied hundreds, growing to thousands. I loved the book. Fascinating. Enjoyed but sometimes cringed at this brutally honest account of starting Teach for America. Interesting to hear how her thought process changed over time and to gain real insight on how Kopp was able to get response (meaning, $$$) from world players in the early 90's. Driven solely by a vision - I don't know whether I'd have had the courage to follow through with such intensity, but then again, she had rallied hundreds, growing to thousands. I loved the book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sushila

    Would rate it 3.5. More of a biography, and a (quite honest) account of the beginnings of the organization. Will be interesting for people specifically looking to understand that, or for people researching education and education reform. If ur not, I'd say skip (It does have some good thoughts, moments and lessons learnt, especially towards the end..but there's probably other and better places to get those insights..) Would rate it 3.5. More of a biography, and a (quite honest) account of the beginnings of the organization. Will be interesting for people specifically looking to understand that, or for people researching education and education reform. If ur not, I'd say skip (It does have some good thoughts, moments and lessons learnt, especially towards the end..but there's probably other and better places to get those insights..)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    Being a TFA Corps member I thought this would be a good book to read to get a glimpse into the Teach for America world. While the book is intersting, I don't really recommend it for light reading. It's the history of how Teach for America got started, and while fascinating to me, might not interest everyone. However, if you are into issues of educational equity then by all means, pick up a copy! Being a TFA Corps member I thought this would be a good book to read to get a glimpse into the Teach for America world. While the book is intersting, I don't really recommend it for light reading. It's the history of how Teach for America got started, and while fascinating to me, might not interest everyone. However, if you are into issues of educational equity then by all means, pick up a copy!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Monte

    I really took a lot from reading this book about all the challenges, peaks and valleys of building a sustainable nonprofit. It was comforting to learn that the struggles my own organization has been dealing with aren't unique, and that you can come out of it as a stronger, better organization. (3/7/08) I really took a lot from reading this book about all the challenges, peaks and valleys of building a sustainable nonprofit. It was comforting to learn that the struggles my own organization has been dealing with aren't unique, and that you can come out of it as a stronger, better organization. (3/7/08)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    A quick, inspiring read about a driven woman's learning curve and dedication to one of the most impressive start-up service organizations in the nation. Shout out to Steve Schatz' accomplishment in Compton within the book as well ; ) If public school edcucation (teaching) as a civil rights issue moves you, read this. A quick, inspiring read about a driven woman's learning curve and dedication to one of the most impressive start-up service organizations in the nation. Shout out to Steve Schatz' accomplishment in Compton within the book as well ; ) If public school edcucation (teaching) as a civil rights issue moves you, read this.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Adam Rice

    Worth reading to get a perspective on Teach For America from the founder herself. However, it was an incredibly insightful or groundbreaking book. More a reflection than anything else, this book lacked the keen writing of similar books written by polished journalists (i.e. Work Hard, Be Nice by Jay Matthews or Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    Before reading this book, I was not a big fan of Teach for America. While I still have some reservations and believe that the best solution would be to make pursuing teaching accreditation in university highly attractive to America's youth, I now have greater buy-in for the TFA model as a stepping stone towards improving the US education system. Before reading this book, I was not a big fan of Teach for America. While I still have some reservations and believe that the best solution would be to make pursuing teaching accreditation in university highly attractive to America's youth, I now have greater buy-in for the TFA model as a stepping stone towards improving the US education system.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Blain

    Are you thinking of starting a development project, a non-profit, or just want to be inspired by what is possible? Than read this book. Wendy Kopp's story of starting Teach for America is a great narrative how-to that will have you shaking your head at how lucky she was at times but still realize the tremendous amount of work and talent that her and her collogues had. Are you thinking of starting a development project, a non-profit, or just want to be inspired by what is possible? Than read this book. Wendy Kopp's story of starting Teach for America is a great narrative how-to that will have you shaking your head at how lucky she was at times but still realize the tremendous amount of work and talent that her and her collogues had.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I admire that Wendy was able to write this book (in the midst of still running TFA). I enjoyed the inside look at what it took to get this national organization off the ground. Her reflections about movement building and about the power of teachers as leaders were inspiring.

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