Teach For America was only a few years old when its founder and president, Wendy Kopp, found herself facing a mutinous staff. The entire organization had convened in August 1992 in Los Angeles for its second summer training institute, an annual program designed to train new teachers before sending them out into classrooms. But after more than two chaotic years in start-up mode, staff members were fed up with the long hours and low pay, the absence of organizational systems, and the unclear decision-making authority. Staff members told Kopp they would jump ship if things didn’t change. The episode became known as the “coup de Kopp.”1
To make matters worse, the mutiny dovetailed with a major funding crisis: Kopp ...