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A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All Paperback – Feb 28 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs (Feb. 28 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1610391047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1610391047
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.4 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,569,085 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2010

“An optimistic narrative about school reform from an author with an unusual perspective… Kopp’s insistence on aiming high should make it required reading for all professional educators.”

More Magazine, January 2011

“Kopp offers a perspective on lessons learned as she spotlights particularly effective teachers and techniques that have helped poor children from underperforming schools to exceed standards and get into college. Following profiles of teachers and schools, she offers lessons that are widely applicable.”, January 6, 2011

“The group's 20th birthday coupled with its growing network of alumni means that TFA and Kopp, who is about to publish a new book and is becoming more vocal on school reform issues, will be in the news a lot this year.”

Washington Post, February 4, 2011
“Kopp's new book written with Steven Farr, ‘A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Education for All,’ offers an intriguing summary and analysis of all she has wrought…Kopp's book makes many valid if counter-intuitive points about why Teach For America makes sense.”
Education Next, February 3, 2011
“The strength of ‘A Chance to Make History’ is in documenting that genuine reform can and is taking place throughout the country.  Its limitation is that by focusing on certain key individuals in what she calls “Transformational Leadership,” Wendy Kopp has chosen not to delineate broader questions of culture, educational policy at both local and national levels, and systems of student and teacher evaluation without which no substantial and nation-wide system of educational reform can take place.”
Basil and Spice, February 1, 2011

“When I picked up ‘A Chance to Make History,’ I expected to read a glowing history of Teach For America. While Kopp is justly proud of the organization she founded two decades ago, her book goes beyond TFA to explore realistic solutions to the chronic problem of underperforming schools that turn out underperforming students. This exploration makes it a valuable addition to the vast amount of literature on educational reform.”, February 10, 2011

“High school freshmen and veteran policy wonks alike will find A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn't in Providing an Excellent Education for All to be accessible and engaging.”


Huffington Post, March 14, 2011

“Over the last two decades, Teach For America has become an engine for bringing talent to struggling public schools, and in the process, generated a force for reform. Wendy Kopp's recent book, A Chance to Make History, makes that case powerfully.”

School Library Jounral, June 7, 2011
I'm halfway into Wendy Kopp's A Chance to Make History, and it's excellent. Every time I visit schools, I can't stop thinking about how we can do better by kids; this covers it.”


About the Author

Wendy Kopp is the founder and chairwoman of the board at  Teach For America, the co-founder and chief executive of Teach For All, and the author of One Day, All Children. She lives in New York City.

S teven Farr , Teach for America's vice president for knowledge development and public engagement, is also the author of Teaching as Leadership.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So inspiring! Jan. 20 2011
By Lora - Published on
Format: Hardcover
What an incredibly inspiring account of teachers, schools, administrators changing the game for kids growing up in low-income communities. Wendy Kopp has done an amazing job of showing example after example of hard work and thoughtful, purposeful actions leading to tremendous student achievement. She pushes us to think past whether we think we can make a difference and instead whether we are willing to put the energy into making history, because it is in within our reach. I am optimistic that this book and these stories can ignite the pace of change. This is a must read and will definitely be central to the dialogue on education reform.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Second Look At Teach for America April 26 2011
By educatorpartner - Published on
Format: Hardcover
When Wendy Kopp envisioned Teach for America as part of her senior project at Princeton University, I believed that she was on to something special on two fronts.
First, the program would provide an opportunity for a recent college graduates who had not planned to become teachers a chance to" test the waters." In an era of teacher shortages, it might have served to attract new recruits into the profession who had not considered teaching previously. Second, Kopp could have made a case for a national service committment for all college graduates. With an all volunteer military,a required term of national services could have included the Peace Corps, Americorps, Teach for America or a military option.
Instead, " A Chance to Make History" focuses on Teach for America alums who moved to educational leadership rather than classroom positions.The greatest success in my view was the KIPP Academy program created by two TFA alums, Michael Feinberg and David Levin.
However, Kopp continues to champion Michelle Rhee, another TFA alum who went on to become the controversial chancellor of DC public schools. Kopp calls her a " transformational leader." Others have labeled Rhee a union busting bully. That should not have been the intent of Teach for America.
I concur with Kopp's assessmeent that there are no "silver bullets " out there" to cure the problems of public education in America. But given the current war against the teaching profession being waged by a number of governors, Kopp would better serve the profession by convicing TFA alums to stay on the front lines in the classroom and help students. That can help make Teach for America an enduring success.
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All kids deserve an excellent education! Jan. 20 2011
By aviva - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I keep fairly abreast of the education reform movement, and have seen films like The Lottery and Waiting for Superman. As someone who grew up in a low-income community and went to public school there, academic achievement was always going to be my path to the wide world beyond my rural town of 5,000. Very few of us realized that dream, which we had all shared at one point or another, and slowly by slowly, often saw slipping away.

Beyond believing that absolutely all children are capable of amazing things and each one deserves an excellent education (that they're just not getting right now) - this book really brought home the many ways we all contribute to seeing this dream realized. Yes, we need exceptional teachers who will do whatever it takes - and there are many anecdotes of when this alone can change the life path for a student. We also need families, communities, school and district leaders, our elected government officials - and everyone in between. I hope my husband and family and friends are ready for me to recommend this book to them at every opportunity - because I think this is something we should all read, discuss, and take action on.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A big ad May 21 2011
By Kazuko - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It was just as I feared -- a long advertisement for Teach for America. Too many times, it came across as simply a pat on the back, oh look at me, I founded Teach for America, isn't that great. I was looking for something more substantial, with concrete pointers on how a teacher can be more effective in a classroom, how a principal might find a keep an effective teacher, which metrics can and should be measured to judge the effectiveness of a teacher or school. And there might have been more studies cited on exactly what programs were working well. Overall, a disappointment.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars One word book April 10 2011
By Susan M Speicher - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Wendy Kopp has created a wonderful program, Teach for America. This book, however,
is less than wonderful. Ms. Kopp presents one idea, that underpriviledged children deserve what she calls a "transformational education." The problem is that she repeats this word and idea so many times that it begins to cause the same reaction as fingernails on a chalk board. The book reads more like a marketing piece for her program than an intellectual discussion about what works to achieve excellence in public education. Too bad.