As important as it is to improve teacher quality and curricula, the need for strong, thoughtful, entrepreneurial and bold leaders — be they teachers, principals, even parents — is critical in reforming American public education. At this moment, as much of the problem lies with abysmal principals, superintendents, ed school deans and other players in education unwilling to do what it takes to improve the quality of instruction and learning children receive each and every day. Although the dearth of strong leadership is evident in pervasive dropout factories such as Detroit, it is sometimes even worse in suburban districts that appear on the surface to be high-performing; more often than not, the unwillingness to challenge long-held assumptions and longstanding practices often sets up generations of kids for mediocrity (if not failure down the road).

Teach For America Founder Wendy Kopp offers some thoughts on the need for leadership in this video from last week’s 20th anniversary summit. Watch, consider and think about what you can do to become the leaders we need to help all children succeed.