The occasion of Teach For America’s twentieth anniversary, along with a new book by founder Wendy Kopp summarizing the lessons she’s learned, is pulling the usually low-profile don out of her shell — and leading her to say some interesting things.
Yesterday, the Daily Beast’s Dana Goldstein published a profile in which Kopp said she would love to run the New York City schools.
Or, at least, she seemed to say that. When I asked her to follow up yesterday afternoon, Kopp dismissed the idea.
Education writer Goldstein writes that it is “fair to wonder if Kopp, 44, has her own political ambitions”:
In an interview at TFA’s loft-like headquarters near New York’s Penn Station, she smiles when asked if Mayor Mike Bloomberg spoke to her about replacing former Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Despite a long relationship between TFA and the New York City schools, he did not, she says.
The job went to former Hearst magazines chief Cathie Black, who had no professional experience in public education, and who sent her own children to private boarding school. Kopp, whose four kids attend public schools on Manhattan’s West Side, says running the city’s schools would be a dream job, far more attractive than heading to Washington, D.C. to succeed Arne Duncan as the secretary of Education.
Goldstein also quotes Kopp calling the chancellor job “the best job in the world.”
“I think it’s just awesome,” she gushes. Then she catches herself. “That being said, other than my job. I’ve really drunk all the Teach for America Kool-Aid myself.”
When I asked Kopp if she was actually trying to signal her interest in the position, she gave a firm no. “I really do think the Chancellor job is a great job — but I don’t want it myself!” she wrote in an e-mail. “I was trying to make the point that so much of the critical work happens at the school district level. This is one of the highest impact and most important jobs in the country.”
Kopp also told the Daily Beast that she opposes the Bloomberg administration’s push to publish individual teachers’ value-added effectiveness scores, calling the idea “baffling.”
“The principals of very high performing schools would all say their No. 1 strategy is to build extraordinary teams,” Kopp said. “I can’t imagine it’s a good organizational strategy to go publish the names of teachers and one data point about whether they are effective or not in the newspaper.”