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Teach For America at 25: With Maturity, New Pressure to Change

With her Princeton senior thesis in 1989, Wendy Kopp made a masterstroke. The idea: Redefine teaching in public schools in the United States as an illustrious two-year postgraduate service mission, rather than a safe middle-class career choice — more Peace Corps than post office. Within a few years, TFA had became a top recruiter at elite schools around the country.

Today, there are 37,000 TFA alumni, and 10,500 corps members in the field. The current corps are just 1 percent of the U.S. teaching workforce, but the ripples TFA has created are far broader.