GOOD Q&A: Wendy Kopp

Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach for America, is facing the challenge of educational inequity head-on. After 18 years of work, Teach for America has an alumni of 14,000 corps members (and about 6,200 currently assigned teachers) whose impact on the lives of students in low-income areas is immeasurable...

Wendy Kopp, the founder and CEO of Teach for America, is facing the challenge of educational inequity head-on. After 18 years of work, Teach for America has an alumni of 14,000 corps members (and about 6,200 currently assigned teachers) whose impact on the lives of students in low-income areas is immeasurable. Here, Kopp reflects on what it's like to create a massive organization in response to an even more massive problem. Interview after the jump.What does a $20 donation do Teach for America?Contributions for Teach for America help us channel the energy of talented, dedicated, recent college graduates against the problem of educational inequity through teaching in the most under-resourced communities. Ultimately, we know that teaching experience is so transformative for the corps members themselves that it influences a lifelong commitment to address educational inequity.How do you explain your organization to someone who's unfamiliar with it? It's hard to make our mission simple. What we do is build a corps of talented, recent college graduates who commit two years to teach in low income communities and become life-long leaders in pursuit of educational opportunity.The Teach for America blueprint was laid out in your senior thesis at Princeton? Did you expect that project to grow into an organization when you wrote it?I would say, sort of, but not really. I wasn't sure. I had become really obsessed with this idea, and I needed a thesis topic-which was convenient because it enabled me the chance to spend a lot of time researching the environment in which the idea might operate and how it might work. So as I researched this, I was thinking, could this work? Could I actually start it? So yeah, I sort of approached the thesis as an exploration of whether this thing could actually happen.Princeton seems like an unlikely environment to inspire someone to combat educational inequity, no?Of course you cannot begin to see the depths of educational inequity at Princeton or at any of our nation's top campuses. But you actually can see evidence on virtually any campus of the fact that where you're born in our country does much to determine your educational prospects. I certainly was not researching within the Princeton community. I was a public policy major looking at the broader policy context in which this would operate, and looking at various models like the Peace Corps, the Federal Teachers Corps, and other service corps that could inform the development of Teach for America.What's the toughest obstacle you face as an organization?As we've progressed in the last 18 years, we have seen everyday first hand the extent of educational disparities in our country. It is a massive and deeply entrenched problem. I think what gives us a greater sense of urgency today than we've ever had is a sense that we can solve this problem. When kids facing the problems of poverty are given the chances they deserve, they excel on an absolute scale. It's seen everyday: the juxtaposition of the disparities that persist and the possibilities in terms of student potential that fuel our sense of responsibility to try to do more.How do you measure successes or failures?We measure the impact of Teach for America based on two things. One is the impact our teachers have on their students' achievement during their two-year commitment. The other is the extent to which our teachers exert leadership in effecting fundamental change that ultimately addresses educational inequity in a long term way. It's certainly hard to measure. But over 60 percent of our alumni are working full-time in education, many of them in real leadership roles: running some of the most successful schools in low-income communities, getting appointed as superintendents and elected to school boards, advising governors and senators on education policy. We look at the degree to which people remain engaged and exert real influence.What are your thoughts on how charter schools and private schools will shape the educational landscape?Given the magnitude of the problem, we need to think creatively about how to address it. Ultimately, it's going to take leadership and innovation from within the system as well as innovation from outside of the system.Is the state of education one of crisis?We believe that the educational disparities that persist in our country are our nation's greatest social injustice. I'm sure you have all these statistics, but the fact that we have 13 million kids today growing up in poverty who, by the time they're 9 years old are already three grade levels behind kids in high income communities, half of whom won't graduate from high school and the half who do will be on an 8th grade skill level. We just believe that this is an unconscionable problem in a country that aspires to be a land of opportunity. We believe that our only hope for addressing that problem is to channel the energy of our nation's future leaders against it. That's the core idea of Teach for America. It will lead us to address the problem in a systemic and sustained way. I guess I would say that I was very aware when I was a college senior that I felt like the whole world was open to me-and that that was because I'd had the chance to obtain an excellent education. Really, that's by nature of where I was born. That, as much as anything, gave me the inspiration for Teach for America-knowing that in our country today, where you're born does do so much to determine your educational outcome. I went to a public school but in a very a privileged community and feel very lucky to have attained the education that I did.Is there something you never learned as a kid that you wish you had?There's so much I didn't learn. I'm having trouble thinking of an answer that would make sense. So many things.What's your definition of good?This is hard to do in a non-trite way. It's the bold, relentless pursuit of a better world.
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

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The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

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September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

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The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

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via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

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