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I saw an article in Time magazine a few weeks ago. It was about Wendy Kopp, CEO of Teach for America. The article promoted her, TFA and her new book A Chance to Make History. The article alone inspired me to read the book, but I also have ulterior motives, er, motivations. I come from a family of teachers, plus I am a home-schooler and need to stay current with the always topical subject of education, plus my neighbor is running for a seat on the Rockford School Board, plus I have numerous friends who are teachers, plus I just plain care. Now that Ive said that, I want to say I wish the title wasnt so corny. I keep hearing Jon Lovitz shouting the title in that broad, affected voice he does. A Chonce!!! to Make Hissssstory!!!! Moving on...The expectations, accountability and standards of TFA are expressed well in this book. Kopps language is clear and sophisticated but, at times, long-winded. For example, on page 113, she writes: I believe part of the reason that the achievement gap has not narrowed in an aggregate sense over the past two decades, despite all the energy and resources invested in education reform, is that our policy makers and influencers have been so obsessed with finding a quick fix that we have gone lurching from one silver-bullet solution to another rather than embracing the big idea of transformative education and engaging in the very hard work of implementing it.She repeats this sentiment throughout the entire book. While it is good to know she is committed to commitment and accountability, her repetitive writing style is boring.She is also very acronym heavy. KIPP, WHEELS, OECD, AFT, NOW, etc.. Call me dumb, but I cant remember what a single one of them means. Ironically, she spells out Teach For America every single time. I would have remembered TFA.She points out a few great teachers (Megan, Maurice, Julie, Joe, Paul and Cami) a few times, which I dont understand. Is this a corporate awards show for TFA, I mean Teach For America? And she includes a bizarre passive-aggressive section about Steve Jobs and Bill and Melinda Gates. Im not sure if she was paid to be more pro-Mac than pro-PC, but she passively hints at it. She is definitely political and her writing style hearkens to the speech styles of candidates running for office. The most promising path is to generate more political leaders, advocates, and union leaders who deeply understand that educational inequity is a solvable problem, who appreciate what solving the problem will take, and who have the conviction to stand up for the change that is necessary. Page 160.and The intensity of the disagreements and the tensions between adult and student interests sparked by the proposed legislation demonstrated just how critical it is to have political leaders who have acquired unshakable conviction through firsthand understanding of the potential of children in under-resourced areas. Page 162. I enjoyed this book for educational and political purposes but am sharing the following lessons I gleaned from this book. Keep momentum in the classroom going. Consider 7 minute lessons followed by 20 minutes of classwork. Motivate your student to look toward the future. Change your teaching environment a lot. Tell him or her the year he or she will graduate from college. Embrace science fiction and plan lessons around that year. Take your kids to colleges for fun. Have students track their progress in a way that equates academic progress similar to progress-tracking in universities. Learn about other cultures. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand educational reform a little bit better.

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