When Schools Get in the Way of Education

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the founding of Teach for America, the training ground for recent college graduates who compete to teach in some of the nation's most high-needs schools (READ: the nation's poorest urban and rural districts), TFA Founder and Leader Wendy Kopp sat down Tuesday night with writer Malcolm Gladwell at the New York Public Library, to talk about education as a way to overcome poverty.

Among the topics they discussed were New Orleans as a transformational model, Philadelphia's underperforming School of the Future, and teacher compensation.

And of course, they talked about charter schools and leadership.

"If you look at the charter school results, on average, and the public schools results, they're no better," said Kopp. "...it is the best of intentions, it is people wanting to solve the problem tomorrow. Change the laws but unfortunately, it's not that easy. We still need to cultivate the leadership necessary to take advantage of the charter laws and that is the most precious resource... It's hard to find those school leaders who have the foundational experience necessary to actually run a transformational school."

If you have an hour to spare, it's worth a looksee. Or, if you prefer to cut to the chase, FORA.tv breaks the conversation into chapters for easy listening...

But first, a hat tip to my California friend, now NYPL Director Paul Holdengraber, whose introduction to the evening inspired the title of this post with a quote from Mark Twain who said, "I never let my schooling get in the way of my education."

It's complicated.