Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach for America

Help improve education for disadvantaged children internationally

Wendy Kopp, Founder of Teach for America

Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America and the co-founder of the worldwide Teach for All, will speak to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council on April 23rd about improving education for disadvantaged children in the US and internationally. Kopp’s model of enlisting high-achieving university graduates to become teachers for a minimum of two years has attracted extensive support within the US, and has now expanded to 32 countries around the world. 

The idea for Teach for America came from Kopp’s undergraduate thesis at Princeton in 1989.  The following year she recruited 500 recent college graduates to teach, and since then Teach for America has enrolled some 33,000 teachers who have taught more than 3 million children around the country, mostly in low-income communities.  Statistics show that educational inequity fosters crime and violence – a male drop out from high school in the US is 47 times more likely to go to jail than a male college graduate.

Improving education can also help combat poverty – if all students in low income countries learn to read and write, global poverty would be cut by 12%.  In 2007 Kopp co-founded an international organization, Teach for All, with the aim of expanding educational opportunity to high-need communities.  That network now extends to 32 countries, from China and Nepal to Pakistan, Mexico and Peru.

Kopp went to Highland Park High School in Dallas, Texas, and received her BA from Princeton University.  She has strong views on teacher accountability but opposes public rankings of teachers and also dismisses simplistic “silver bullet” solutions for problems in the education system.

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