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LIVE from the NYPL: WENDY KOPP & MALCOLM GLADWELL"Teach For America" Revolution: A Catalyst for Education Reform?


As Teach For America’s founder and leader for twenty years, Wendy Kopp has developed a clear, and to some surprising, perspective on what it will take to realize our nation’s vision of educational excellence and equity for all children. As laid out in her new book, A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education For All, Wendy Kopp’s experiences with tens of thousands of teachers and other leaders in urban and rural communities has deepened her conviction that we can accomplish something unprecedented in our nation’s history and unprecedented around the world – we can provide children facing the socioeconomic challenges that come along with growing up in low-income urban and rural communities with an education that transforms their life prospects.

On February 8, she will sit down for a dialogue with one of our nation’s premier thinkers and writers, Malcolm Gladwell, to explore important trends of progress in education reform and common approaches found in successful classrooms and schools that we can learn from and act on to replicate success. The conversation will critically examine the current debates about education reform and the extent to which they are missing the core of the solutions found in the classrooms, schools, and districts where children getting a life-changing education. We expect a provocative exploration of policy and systemic changes needed to realize education equity. Wendy Kopp and Malcom Gladwell will examine:


  • The most important trends of progress in the quest for educational equity over the last twenty years.
  • The common approaches found in successful classrooms and schools that we can learn from and act on to replicate success.
  • What is right and wrong about the current conversation about education, and how we can change it to better serve children in low-income communities.
  • What policy changes we need to implement to realize educational equity 
  • What Teach For America's role in increasing the pace of change will be.

WENDY KOPP proposed the creation of Teach For America in her undergraduate senior thesis in 1989. Today more than 8,000 Teach For America corps members are in the midst of two-year teaching commitments in 39 regions across the country, reaching over 500,000 students, and 20,000 alumni are working inside and outside the field of education to continue the effort to ensure educational excellence and equity. Wendy is also chief executive officer and co-founder of Teach For All, a global network of independent social enterprises pursuing this mission in their countries. Since 2007, Wendy has led the development of Teach For All to be responsive to requests for support from social entrepreneurs around the world who are passionate about adapting the model to their contexts. Teach For All has already grown to include programs in 14 countries across the globe, from India and China to Peru and Brazil to Lebanon and Israel. Wendy is the author of One Day, All Children: The Unlikely Triumph of Teach For America and What I Learned Along the Way and A Chance to Make History: What Works and What Doesn’t in Providing an Excellent Education for All. She resides in New York City with her husband Richard Barth and their four children. 

MALCOLM GLADWELL has been a staff writer with The New Yorker magazine since 1996. His 1999 profile of Ron Popeil won a National Magazine Award, and in 2005 he was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. He is the author of four books, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking and Outliers: The Story of Success all of which were number one New York Times bestsellers. His latest book, What the Dog Saw is a compilation of stories published in The New Yorker. From 1987 to 1996, he was a reporter with the Washington Post, where he covered business, science, and then served as the newspaper's New York City bureau chief. He graduated from the University of Toronto, Trinity College, with a degree in history. He was born in England, grew up in rural Ontario, and now lives in New York City.