“Today’s summit was an unprecedented gathering of thousands of our alumni and other national and community leaders, and I’m hopeful that the dialogue we shared will accelerate the effort to ensure that all of our nation's children attain an excellent education,” Kopp said. "We know today that it is possible to realize educational excellence and equity, which is dramatic progress from the prevailing notions 20 years ago, and we know so much more about what it will take, but still it is humbling to reflect on how much remains to be done."
Kaya Henderson, Interim Chancellor of
for America alumna, and Ballou Senior High School
Marching Band kick off Teach For
America’s 20th Anniversary Summit
During the opening plenary session, President Barak Obama delivered a video message to summit attendees. “I want to congratulate everyone who is gathered from across the country to celebrate your achievements and rededicate yourselves to the idea that every child, no matter who they are, or where they live, deserves a quality education,” President Obama said. “Congratulations to everybody at Teach For America. Thank you for your continued belief in the potential of
Speakers at the summit, including Harlem Children’s Zone founder and CEO Geoffrey Canada, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, National Council of La Raza President and CEO Janet Murguía, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, Grammy Award-winning performing artist and Teach For America national board member John Legend, and authors Malcolm Gladwell and Gloria Steinem, offered diverse perspectives on eliminating educational inequity. The summit also featured notable Teach For America alumni, including current D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson (New York Corps ’92), Students First founder Michelle Rhee (Baltimore Corps ’92), and KIPP founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg (both Houston Corps ’92), 2005 National Teacher of the Year Jason Kamras, and Colorado State Senator Mike Johnston.
“Teach For America brought thousands of great teachers and extraordinary leaders into the classroom,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Teach For America made teaching cool again in low-income communities for a whole generation of talented college graduates. Its record shows that poverty need not be destiny in the classroom. When it comes to teaching, talent matters tremendously.”
Since its founding, Teach For America has recruited and trained more than 28,000 young people to teach in underserved public schools and put their students on the path of academic achievement. This network of leaders includes more than 8,200 current corps members and 20,000 alumni. More than 13,000 alumni continue to work full-time in education, including more than 6,000 teachers and more than 550 school leaders; among their ranks are the founders of high-performing charter school networks KIPP and YES Prep Public Schools and the principals of a majority of Achievement First schools. Additionally, more than 40 alumni serve in elected office.
During the summit, a new study on Teach For America’s alumni impact was published in the journal Education Next. Harvard education professor Monica Higgins and her research team found that Teach For America produced a larger proportion of educational entrepreneurs compared with other similar organizations in education, government, and business. Coauthored by Frederick Hess, Jennie Weiner, and Wendy Robison, “Creating a Corps of Change Agents: What Explains the Success of Teach For America” indicates that the organization is making progress in its mission to build the movement to end educational inequity by enlisting promising future leaders in the effort.
A growing body of rigorous research demonstrates that Teach For America corps members have a significant impact on student achievement. Most recently, studies of teacher pathways in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Tennessee found that students of Teach For America teachers outperformed their peers. In a 2009 independent survey of principals who employ Teach For America corps members, most respondents rated corps members as more effective than other faculty members, and almost none rated them as less effective.
“I’m pleased to welcome to Washington, D.C., the thousands of Teach For America corps members, supporters, and my fellow alumni, who are committed to ensuring that every child in our country has access to a high-quality public education,” said Kaya Henderson, interim chancellor of D.C. Public Schools and Teach For America alumna. “Today we have the opportunity to connect, to learn from each other, and to drive forward the fundamental changes that will expand opportunities for our children and empower them to achieve their dreams.”
The 20th Anniversary Summit follows the January 25 release of Wendy Kopp’s second book, A Chance to Make History (PublicAffairs). In the book, Kopp shares what she has learned in the past 20 years about the causes and solutions of the achievement gap and profiles leaders at the classroom, school, and system level who are succeeding in the effort to provide children facing all the challenges of poverty with an excellent education.
During the summit, Teach For America took stock of its progress and laid out its goals for the future. Teach For America has grown from 500 corps members across six regions in 1990 to more than 8,200 corps members across 39 regions today. In total, Teach For America corps members have served more than 3 million students from low-income communities. By 2015, the organization aims to double its size to more than 15,000 corps members teaching in over 60 regions across the country.
About Teach For
Teach For America is the national corps of outstanding recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in urban and rural public schools and become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity. Today, more than 8,200 corps members are teaching in 39 regions across the country, while 20,000 Teach For America alumni continue working from inside and outside the field of education for the fundamental changes necessary to ensure educational excellence and equity.