The TFA 20th Anniversary Summit was mind-blowing, both in scale and inspiration. In terms of scale, I’ve been to numerous events at the convention center, but nowhere have I seen one that has sprawled across so much of the center’s space. In terms of inspiration, I expected big things and got much more than that.
And it’s not over yet. But, alas, a 12-hour day provided enough stimulation for one day. I’ve retired for the evening and will share some of the initial sights and sounds from some of today’s sessions (reflections will come later).
First, the sight of the masses swarming DC’s convention center:
Second, overheard (and seen) at…
“The reality is that we have not made a difference in the aggregate… the achievement gap still exists.” - Wendy Kopp, on how far we still have to go, despite how far we’ve come.
“We have to understand that, as a nation, we’ve become soft in fighting for what’s right!” - Geoffrey Canada, on our tendency to give up too early.
“We give the kids with the greatest challenges the crummiest education and then say ‘poverty is destiny.’” - Joel Klein, on the common conception of the cycle of poverty.
“Negotiate, regulate, legislate, litigate.” - John Deasy, on the 4-point agenda for ed reform.
“The unit of change for a kid’s life…is the school.” - Dave Levin, on schools as the loci of transformation.
“Stick with this and the changes that have happened in the past 10 years will seem like nothing.” - Jon Schnur, on the future impact of TFA.
“Find a way to get in the way–just do it.” - Congressman John Lewis, on the “act” of activism.
“People united can never be defeated” -John Lewis, on consensus.
“One does what is done to one.” - Diana Rauner (President of the Ounce of Prevention Fund), on how parenting knowledge is normally passed on.
“Opportunity exists at the intersection of [education and other social needs.]” - Larkin Tackett (Deputy Director of Promise Neighborhoods), on Promise Neighborhoods.
“They do the things that our students need but we can’t do ourselves.” - Paul Tough, quoting Chris Barbic on the importance of complementary social service providers.
“The real strength of the [Teach For All] network…is that it reminds us everyday…that there are many people before us that have done it.” - Evgenia Peeva (CEO of Teach For Bulgaria), on possibility made reality.
“Not only is this a universally recognized model, but it’s a universal problem [we're dealing with.]” - Andrea Pasinetti (Founder of China Education Initiative), on the common transnational need for programs like TFA.
(Our fearless leader, Wendy Kopp)
“Kids are kids; teaching is teaching.” - Wendy Kopp, quoting the founder of Ensena Chile (Teach For All’s partner in Chile), also on the universality need for good teaching.
“There are two types of people in education: teachers, and people who help teachers do their jobs–and everybody else should get out of their way!” - Arne Duncan, on the importance of teachers.
“Choose to be great, so our children can be free–this is our legacy.” - Jeremy Beard (School Improvement Officer in the Houston ISD), on the role we should play.
Third, an image of the 11,000 members of a national movement in DC today, of which:
- 3,000 are current corps members;
- 51 are original 1990 corps members;
- 1,000+ alumni are still teachers; and
- 11,000 believe that, one day, all children in this nation (and this world???) will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.