Read Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America by Jay Mathews Online


When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators. They did that—and more. In their early twenties, by sheer force of talent and determination never to take no for an answer, they created a wildly successful fifth-grade experiencWhen Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators. They did that—and more. In their early twenties, by sheer force of talent and determination never to take no for an answer, they created a wildly successful fifth-grade experience that would grow into the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), which today includes sixty-six schools in nineteen states and the District of Columbia. KIPP schools incorporate what Feinberg and Levin learned from America's best, most charismatic teachers: lessons need to be lively; school days need to be longer (the KIPP day is nine and a half hours); the completion of homework has to be sacrosanct (KIPP teachers are available by telephone day and night). Chants, songs, and slogans such as "Work hard, be nice" energize the program. Illuminating the ups and downs of the KIPP founders and their students, Mathews gives us something quite rare: a hopeful book about education....

Title : Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781565125162
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 329 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Work Hard. Be Nice.: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America Reviews

  • Trevor
    2019-03-23 03:38

    Last year I was teaching a course on education policy to forth year Bachelor of Education students. Sort of a lightning tour of education policy in Australia with some references to what is happening overseas and what impact that might have on the Australian education system. As part of that I showed the students a Ted Talk by Bill Gates – part of this one: in it he tells his audience about KIPP schools and then gives everyone in the audience a copy of this book. In fact, he says, “I thought it was so fantastic and gave you a sense of what a good teacher does…” That is at about 18 minutes in – but he also praises KIPP at about 14 minutes in, as well.Given this praise, I was expecting this to be a much better book than it proved to be. In fact, this is just about every crap, cliché ridden American movie about education written in continuous prose – cue Cartman: one point the author even says, “She had shown him how even he, as awkward as he had been his first months at Bastian, could reach those kids.” Snap, I though.Yeah – I know, kill me now. This book has everything: a bit of sex, lots of basketball, some Rap, a visitation from God, sudden death, a birth, a basketball battle to near death, lots and lots of insanely bad food and endless behaviour management of tough kids who, when given the right treatment, prove to have hearts of gold and a strong desire to learn. In fact, if you come away from this book with any sense at all, it is that the only way to teach children from underprivileged backgrounds is to impose the strictest forms of discipline upon them that you can think of. Sometimes you may need to humiliate them too – but that is all part of the deal.One of the things that Gates says about KIPP schools is that they have had remarkable success in educating these underprivileged children, often raising their standardised test scores by unheard of amounts. There has been lots of research on KIPP – some of that research has been done by Darling-Hammond, and I found it interesting that she was even mentioned in the book – let’s be completely upfront here, this book is a hagiography, it is the American dream written large – a couple of punks have a dream, a dream of perfecting the education system for poor people, they don’t quite know what they are doing, but they know something needs to be done and, like a couple of momma bears (one of them actually describes themselves as a momma bear) you don’t want to come between them and their babies. The problem is that while the ‘system’ may not be actually corrupt, it is rotten to the core (the common core) and so if you want to change it you just have to work around it – lie, cheat, steal – you are on the right side and so everything is justified. This book is an endless series of stories of the heroes outsmarting the bureaucrats and school officials so they can give their kids what they need – a damn good education. And the guy who wrote this has spent too long reading the Hero with a Thousand Faces – every bloody element of the myth cycle is here, the rejection of the call, the supernatural assistance from the goddess, the call to adventure, the death of the hero and his eventual resurrection (usefully, by a Jewish guy too) and, of course, ultimately atonement and the return. I assume the author is annoyed this hasn’t been made into a film yet – he has gone out of his way to make it as easy for a scriptwriter as he possibly could.As much as the plotline annoyed me – what annoyed me more was the pedagogy. Unfortunately, I’m going to have to explain some stuff here before my main criticisms of this book can be clear, but stay with me. Just about the only teaching that happens in this book involves teaching to the test. And this isn’t just me saying that – here is a quote justifying it as a key method of KIPP schools:“This was teaching to the test, a practice that would become increasingly controversial as states like Texas, and then the federal government, required annual examinations for all public school students. Critics said tailoring lessons to what was going to be on a state test narrowed the curriculum and hurt students. Supporters, including Levin and Feinberg, said the practice was simply review of skills and concepts that state test makers — most of them teachers — had decided were important for students to learn. No one ever complained when classroom teachers had students review topics that were going to be on their own tests, so what was wrong with preparing students for state tests? Repetition was one way that people learned, including pilot trainees, novice golfers, foreign language students, and fifth graders.”From what I can gather, virtually everything that occurs in these classrooms involves rote learning of some sort. This produces good improvements on standardised tests, particularly if you are drilling the kids on the near exact content of those tests. Now, some people complain that this is ‘drill and kill’ – that is, that endless rote learning kills any joy in learning. The teachers here would argue that they incorporate songs and high-energy classes and McDonald’s lunches (did I mention the bad food throughout this?) and trips to Washington into their lessons and that this means the kids are engaged and having fun while learning. How true this is, I can’t say – and am not really all that concerned with that at the moment. My point isn’t that this style of teaching bores children (even if that would be my guess) – but rather that learning is much more than rote learning – even if rote learning can move you up the standardised test ranks.A good way to understand the point I’m trying to make is to have a look at Bloom’s Taxonomy ( Basically, this is a ladder that shows that students have increasing mastery of what they are learning and that this increasing mastery follows a predictable pattern and pathway. The base is the ability to remember information about the subject at hand. You can’t do anything until you have some mastery of the basic concepts and facts of a subject. And this is a great time for rote learning – when you are first introduced to a topic and getting these basic ideas into your head, anyway you can is great. But education clearly doesn’t end there. Admittedly, we do reward people on game shows for their ability to recall random facts – but in real life it isn’t the person who can recall the most obscure factoid that does well (other than while doing quizzes from the newspaper in lunchroom, perhaps), but the people who can understand why those facts are important generally does better – how the facts fit together to tell a sensible story, for instance, and you can’t really learn that by rote. And beyond just being able to understand the facts, you aren’t really educated until you can apply what you know to situations that are at the very least somewhat different to the situations in which you learnt them – being able to apply your learning in novel situations is clearly a harder task than remembering stuff – and also can’t be learnt by rote. And you shouldn’t just apply those facts mechanically, but you should also learn how to evaluate the configuration of those facts as they are structured in a narrative and to be able to analyse that story so as to draw conclusions about those facts and why they are arranged to tell the story they are telling. It is only then, when you have developed the understanding, analytical and evaluative skills in manipulating facts that you can be truly creative – surely the pinnacle of the learning experience. This is the lesson of Bloom’s taxonomy – that learning isn’t just about stuffing information into empty heads, or being able to regurgitate those facts on demand, but rather that to be truly educated means much more than knowing facts – even if the base of the pyramid has to be built upon those facts. That these people were learning by rote and then the author had the gall to say, “The excursions — both large and small — connected school learning to the real world in ways educational theorists like John Dewey had been recommending for a century.” How dare he use Dewey’s name as if this stuff bore any resemblance at all to his progressive education for democratic participation…Every example of learning given in this book is one of rote learning. There is even a part where they talk about taking the kids to see a play by Shakespeare and the kids are mouthing the words – because, naturally, they have rote learnt that too. Look, don’t get me wrong, there are whole scenes of Shakespeare I can do line-by-line – but what is never mentioned here is anything about the pleasure of truly engaging with learning – with doing more than just remembering stuff (the lowest level of Bloom’s taxonomy). The other problem I had was with the way these young men engaged with the communities that ‘their babies’ came from. Repeatedly we are told that they would go into these communities and meet the parents – but they went into these communities as saviours, such that, ‘do it my way or don’t come at all’ was the attitude – they even had contracts for the parents to sign, and not contracts the parents could adjust in any ways. They did not seek to learn from these communities, they did not try to see how they might better engage those communities to improve the learning of their children – rather, they were always the messiahs and these communities were either the cheer squad or there was no role for them at all. The one lesson to be learnt was that these communities were horrible, that you either escaped them or you would drown in them. In fact, repeatedly throughout the book the children would sing this chant:“You gotta read, baby, read.You gotta read, baby, read.The more you read, the more you know, ‘Cause knowledge is power,Power is money, andI want it.You gotta read, baby, read.You gotta read, baby, read.No need to hope for a good-paying job.With your first-grade skills you’ll do nothing but rob. You gotta read, baby, read.You gotta read, baby, read.You’ll rob your momma, you’ll rob your friends. Don’t you know you can learn?Don’t you know you can win?You gotta read, baby, read.You gotta read, baby, read.”So, if you stay in the community you were born into you will do nothing but rob – but if you become like us (nice, white, middle class people) you’ll have a good job and you will win. This stuff is presented as self-evidently true. None of the difficulties associated with racism in the US – where black people with equivalent levels of education as white people receive much lower levels of pay, and are much less likely to be able to access good jobs. None of the ‘complications’ of education are ever mentioned – as Delpit makes all too clear in her ‘Other People’s Children’ (a book I could hardly stop thinking about while reading this), those complications are everywhere in the lives of the disenfranchised.It is hard for me to think that Bill Gates might have read this book and then thought, ‘You know what, I will give this book to people and they will see how to fix the US education system’ – I would recommend you to read this book because I would hope you would see the problems associated with sending evangelical missionaries into communities to save their children. But it looks like the US is trying to copy the history of Australia’s education of young Aboriginal children – a history that is now referred to as the ‘Stolen Generations’.Education really shouldn’t be done to people.

  • di
    2019-03-08 03:09

    My rating has to do with the writing, not the KIPP idea, although I will address that later. Mathews was all over the place, & there were chapters stuck in places that made no sense. He starts the book in the middle of Feinberg's class in 1995. Jump back to 1992, when Feinberg & Levin first met. No big deal. The transition was choppy, but it made sense. From there it mostly follows the narrative of two guys learning to teach, getting better, starting out on their own...then. 43 pages in, we interrupt this program for a chapter on Feinberg's upbringing. Odd. Then one on Levin. Then, back to the story. 100 pages later Mathews does it again. In the middle of the story he interrupts with a chapter about Ball falling in love & getting married & losing her husband in a tragic death. All this happened several years before she ever met Levin, & had nothing whatsover to do with the KIPP story. Besides these weird chapters, the narrative was completely lost in the back & forth. Not only do you have to keep two sites clear, but he jumps from 1995 to 2005 & every year in between. I got sick of trying to keep all the vignettes in context. It was annoying. Now for the KIPP idea itself (which I would rate significantly higher, but not a 5.) When I first heard of KIPP I knew Rafe Esquith HAD to be somewhat connected to it. The longer school days, the slogans, the belief that inner city children can when I found this book about the KIPP story I had to read it. It turns out Esquith was one of two teachers that inspired two guys doing their Teach for America stints, and they created KIPP. I think there's a lot of merit for KIPP, & I look forward to actually visiting a school one of these days, but my reaction is somewhat mixed, & I think they failed to pick up on the aspects of Esquith's teaching that I was most impressed by.Esquith has accomplished a great deal with his 5th graders. Unabridged Shakespeare shows every year, trips around the world, students in Ivy League schools, & high test scores. But what I like most about him is his approach to discipline & classroom management. He uses Kohlberg's Levels of Morality, & challenges his kids to be level six thinkers. (Level six thinkers have a pesonal code of behavior & follow it.) He expends tremendous amounts of energy teaching his children the meaning of character. Best of all, he teaches by example. He tries his best to walk the walk, (& tells about all the bumps in the road when he messed up) in spite of the crazy education bureaucracy he has to deal with. It is possibly the most important thing he teaches.Feinberg & Levin picked up on all the outward aspects of Esquith's teaching: the trips, the glossy test results, the long school days, the lessons on decorum. But they come up short on Kohlberg's Levels of Morality. In short, they are level one thinkers, turning out level one thinker students. It's hard to teach students integrity & then teach them to lie & steal in order to get a better deal at a motel. They use intimidation & shame to bring their kids in line. They do not treat others well & make total nuisances of themselves, throwing tantrums & screaming at supervisors. Throwing chairs--& breaking a window--when students come up short on assignments!? (I find it intriging that they use Esquith's "Be nice. Work hard." mantra with their students when they fail to do so themselves.) Yes, they work hard (& I do give them credit), but niceness? Not by a long shot. I do believe that working in the system has its annoyances, but again, I credit Esquith for rising to that higher level. Mostly. (He was also known as a nuisance among colleagues, but I don't think he ever threw any chairs or screamed. I can't imagine he ever told his kids to lie or steal during one of his DC trips. He mostly just raises difficult questions at faculty meetings & fails to conform to ridiculous expectations.)The other bone I have to pick is that Levin & Feinberg concentrated on hiring TFA teachers rather than those of us with traditional teacher preparation backgrounds, as if we were inferior. Feinberg & Levin would have gone nowhere if it hadn't have been for Esquith & Ball, two teachers with traditional backgrounds. TFA has been criticized for putting ill-prepared teachers in front of the classroom, at poor kids' expense. I didn't see anything in this book that made me think otherwise. Feinberg & Levin themselves were poor teachers their first years. I found myself getting angry over the chapter when they fired the 6th grade math teacher after 3 months. They admitted he wasn't bad, he just hadn't found his rhythm. I guess they must have forgotten their own start! It's not that I object to firing bad teachers. And I understand the pressure they are under at KIPP to achieve high scores, but I just found their actions supremely hypocritical.The chapter on KIPP critics was glossed over. It's a big deal that nearly half of the students drop out of the program before they finish eighth grade, the largest block leave after only one year in the program. (Mathews does not draw this conclusion.) Esquith comments in his book that he was aware of some teachers who he had mentored who are starting schools that are nothing short of Dickensian workhouses. I am pretty sure he was talking about KIPP, although I can't be sure. They use the trips, the fast-food, & the perks as rewards for hard work. But in Esquith's classroom it is the hard work that the kids become addicted to. Esquith is focused on the PROCESS, not the PRODUCT. At KIPP, I get the feeling that it's the other way around. After reading Esquith's books I found myself wishing I could be in his class, or at least teach next door! After reading this book I am scared to teach at KIPP. Way too much pressure! The part where Dippel breaks down after her kids' test scores come in...well, that says volumes to me. If there is that much pressure on the teachers, you have to know there is that much pressure on the kids too.So these are my criticisms of KIPP after reading this book, but I'd still give it high marks. The jury is still out. KIPP seems to be doing good work out there, & it's still young.

  • Stuart Nachbar
    2019-03-08 22:28

    Work Hard.Be Nice is an account of the founding of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a nationwide network of charter schools that was first founded in Houston, and first expanded in the Bronx, New York. The author, Washington Post education writer Jay Mathews, has written a largely supportive account of KIPP's progress; he writes about the founders, David Levin and Michael Feinberg with respect and awe.Work Hard. Be Nice , combined with a personal visit to a non-KIPP charter school earlier this spring, raises thoughts as to who can succeed within a charter school environment. Charter schools are publicly supported, however they receive less funding per-pupil than more traditional public schools. The school days are longer; presumably students from disadvantaged backgrounds need more instructional time and teacher-student contact. And the teachers are presumably given more latitude in their teaching approach, including support materials, in exchange for giving up the protection of tenure. Charter school administrators are caught in the middle. Teacher's unions oppose them because money and staffing are taken away from traditional schools. Private and parochial school administrators claim that public support of charter schools is taking students, and money, away from them too.But what I learned most from this book is that it takes a special type of teacher to succeed in this environment. While there may be many teachers who would like the freedom to manage their classrooms as they want, they might not have the high energy level or the human relations skills required to work with elementary school students who have never been pushed to learn. KIPP and similar charter school networks rely on Teach for America as a pipeline to find such teachers; they prefer an experienced hand to someone who has never worked in an urban public school.The book states that the founders sought assistance from highly accomplished teachers such as Rafe Esquith, who introduces elementary school students to Shakespeare. Teachers such as Esquith not only have energy in the classroom; they also have the patience (or is it impatience?) to deal with a public school system bureaucracy, which does not always want them to succeed at the expense of the rest of the system. However, some of teachers do get tired of teaching. Levin and Feinberg received the guidance of one such teacher, Harriet Ball, who later decides to become an educational consultant. In the end the success of networks such as KIPP depends on the quality of teachers they recruit. I hope that Mathews or another education report will one day write a story about the competition for such teachers as charter school networks grow in popularity and size, as well as the futures of these unique individuals. Some might go on to start new schools, as Levin and Feinberg did, but others might enter new fields. The school system I attended K through 12th grade had an enterprising theatre arts coordinator and teacher who left teaching to become a movie producer. I'd love to know what makes these unique individuals stay, and what makes them leave. Any superintendent of schools or school board member would want to know the same.

  • Corey
    2019-03-21 00:10

    this book was absolutely amazing. Seeing as how i am a kipp student and i know how the system works this book was a top notch book. I personally have met Mr.Feinberg and Mr. Levin and the story of how they got started is awesome. what they are doing makes so much of a difference and shows how America is the greatest country on earth.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    2019-02-24 00:28

    I always love to read about schools where kids do well. This is one such story. It’s the story of the KIPP program that began in Houston in 1995, started by two committed Teach for America teachers. Here’s a brutal fact: If poor children are going to learn at the same rate as affluent children, they need more school days. Ugh. That hits me where it hurts. This is a brutal fact teachers can’t bear. One of the perks of being a teacher is summers off. Summers kill poor children’s achievement. Eek. So, give me another way we can improve student achievement without taking away our summers? Yep, KIPP has another answer: longer school days. Another brutal fact that we teachers can’t bear. Please, give me something else? Well, KIPP teachers help kids with their homework…in the evenings! Eek. This is getting worse and worse. KIPP offers answers to improving student achievement among poor children, but the answers are not easy.

  • Kirstin
    2019-03-22 23:21

    The Washington Post’s Jay Matthews recently released a new book on KIPP charter schools called Work Hard, Be Nice: How Two Inspired Teachers Created the Most Promising Schools in America, It tells the story of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) which has grown from a classroom in Houston to a program of 66 public charter schools serving 17,000 children in 19 states and the District of Columbia. More than 90 percent of KIPP students are children of color and 80 percent are low income. Students who have completed three years of KIPP’s four-year middle school program demonstrate dramatic achievement gains in math and reading. Eighty percent of KIPP alumni from KIPP’s first schools have now gone on to college, compared to less than 70% of students across the nation, and less than 60% of Hispanic and African American students. How does KIPP accomplish this? Longer school days, school on Saturday and in the summer, a rigorous curriculum, emphasis on teaching the behaviors of discipline and respect, high parent and family involvement, and recruitment and retention of dedicated teachers who must be available to answer student homework questions at all hours (and quick transition out of the classroom for those teachers who don’t raise student achievement).Matthew’s style is journalistic with no references or bibliography, and he follows the personal journey of the schools’ founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, in parallel to that of KIPP. Most of the book’s evidence is anecdotal, though a few chapters are dedicated to KIPP skeptics and outside evaluations from groups like SRI International and Mathematica.The book has gained momentum. Bill Gates recently provided a copy for all attendees at the TED talks, where he outlined his take on the biggest challenges facing the world and the United States today: infectious disease and public education. Gates suggested that schools like KIPP and the teachers KIPP attracts are likely to be the key to solving our nation’s biggest education challenges. Malcolm Gadwell’s newest book The Outliers, devotes a chapter to KIPP schools as well.

  • Mona
    2019-02-25 00:17

    WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK: I know several educators and thought this book might help me understand some of the challenges they faceSUMMARY: The story of a couple of educators who started their own educational program and eventually charter school systemREVIEW: I would have found this more useful if it had given a more balanced view of the education debate. It is very biased as pro-charter school and very pro-these specific charter school founders. I do give the guys (Fienberg and Leven) props for the fact that they really care, saw a problem and tried to fix it, and gave of themselves. Their intentions seemed good. And while ultimately, they came to a conclusion that education is a business, I don't think they did what they did to make money. However, I also think that the portrayal of them a mavericks who were the only ones who cared about under privileged kids getting an education is a bit much. While I think there are problems with the educational system in this country I don't think they are intrinsic. Talking about apathetic teachers is a cop out. There are apathetic employees in any profession. Bureaucracy is a part of any large system (including large businesses) and so not the reason to chuck in a system. To lament the lack of money and resources in public education, and blaming the institution for that is the height of hypocrisy. When we are the reason that public education has many of the flaws that it has. We cut taxes to put a few coins in our pocket, we refuse to staff/resource them adequately in order to put a few coins in our pocket. And when with the resources given educators cannot get blood from a stone they are condemned for the failures, and then given less because we don't want to waste money on failures. Charter schools have to do less, with more resources which are taken away from public schools, less oversight and then praised for it.

  • Donura
    2019-03-10 01:31

    RATING: 5 out of 5An absolutely engaging, amazing “listen” about the formation and execution of a middle school design known as KIPP by two teachers driven by their thrill of seeing kids learn.This is an inspiring story of two young men who find their mission in life early, and don’t waiver from it no matter how many obstacles are placed in front of them. As their story unfolds, you find yourself cheering for them at each triumph, and ready to jump in and help them fight off the naysayer who throws up the roadblocks. The manner that Mr. Mathews uses to weave all the individual stories together is very appealing and helpful in putting a personal face on the story of public education with all its flaws. So many books have been written about different aspects of K-12 education, charter education, and different models, but this book will engage anyone regardless of their exposure to the subject. Without an overload of statistics or rankings, this story is told with the clear concise pictures of success and the rewards of that success. If you have an interest in education, listen to this book, if you have children entering the public school system, listen to this book, if you are a new teacher looking for a successful curriculum to embrace, listen to this book, or if you just love a real world story of success, listen to this book.I have been involved in the charter school movement since 1999 and have 4 children that have attended charter schools. Two of them have just graduated from a KIPP school and one is entering the 7th grade. That being said, I did not know the story of Mike Fienberg and David Levin or how the design was conceived and refined, I just knew it worked for my kids. The two graduates are both headed off to private schools on scholarships, and I am thrilled that I have been able to listen to the story of KIPP which gave them their head start to college.

  • Ashley Shinpoch
    2019-02-27 22:18

    I had some issues with this book. 1. That schools could be run like a business. No. Just no. Unfortunately, my nuggets aren't Blu-Ray players, and therefore, shouldn't be treated as such.2. The author's focus on youth. Just because you're young doesn't necessarily mean you have a ton of energy. I know teachers who are in their 50s and 60s who could run circles around me. I aspire to have their energy someday.3. The author didn't address SPED or 504 students. Are there any in the KIPP system? As their motto is everybody will learn, I was curious to see how this was addressed. Especially with teachers who may not be certified to teach SPED students.4. The exceptionally long hours of the school day. I was stressed just reading about the 7:30am-5pm school day. This would be active school and teaching. Not just staying late to make copies or reviewing your lesson plans. Talk about an early burn out. While I consider myself motivated and excited, this would have killed my enthusiasm. 5. Teach for America is NOT a miracle cure. Sorry!6. I found Levin and Feinberg at times to be a little on the douchey side. Putting your feet up on MY desk? You must be out of your mind.Some things I did like:1. I was inspired by Levin's and Feinberg's enthusiasm. It's obvious they were passionate about their kids.2. The slogan: Work Hard. Be Nice. Alllllll day, y'all. 3. The intense focus on reading. YAAASSSSS. Reading is the key, people.4. Taking the kids to live performances of plays and musicals. How awesome, right?

  • Karen Locklear
    2019-02-22 03:27

    This book spells out the problems within public education, and what will need to happen to fix it. Kinda. For children who are economically disadvantaged with parents who need help navigating through the middle class- centered public school system, this is the way to go: Five full days with a half day on SaturdayLonger days so that study halls could be built into the scheduleAfter hours access to teachers. More time focusing on fundamentals and less time focusing on things that should be secondaryI don't believe this should be the set up under any other circumstance because it takes educational ownership out of the hands of the parents, who I believe should be responsible for supplimenting their children's education through reading, art, athletics,or any other activity the child shows an interest. Work Hard Be Nice doesn't spend any time addressing the needs of the learning disabled. Remember, the charters can brag about their success because they pick their team. Public schools cannot. These two men are polarizing forces in education. Although their program is first class, both are inflexible and difficult in regards to following rules and procedures set before them within the public school system, which is perhaps why they left. If you enjoyed this book, watch Waiting for Superman. Yeah, it's charter propoganda, but it does bring up some valid issues regarding public education. I know: I've been teaching for fifteen years!

  • zakhro
    2019-03-05 03:20

    this is a pretty good book over all.i think this book is must-read if u're trying to weigh KİPP system.also, an interesting book for those people, who want to be a good teacher or want to gain experience.but some of the things would be impossible in russian schools.i noted, that so much teaching time and energy goes into learning and bondaging the emotional conditions of children. that was really hard, but i think it was totally worth it.BUT, it must be especially marked that chapters were located in the wrong order. like he starts book in te middle of Feinberg's class in '95 and then we jump back to '92, when Feinberg and Levin first met. thereafter, one paragraph about Feinberg's upbringing, then one of Levin's. 90-100 pages later author does it again. there was some chapters which have nothing in common with KİPP idea. thus why i sometimes lost line of thought. i read some chapters about 2 times because author jumps from '95 to '05 and every year between. it was annoying. that's why only 4.

  • Adam
    2019-03-15 02:32

    If I did not already know the story very well (I am a Houston-area teacher) I have no idea how this disjointed narrative would have come across. The 2-star's "it was ok" label is the perfect descriptor.Also, as a Houston-area teacher, I can see through the hazy, rose-colored promotion of the KIPP system. They are good schools for kids who fall in line. They kick 1/5th of their kids out every year, right before testing, to maintain those high test scores, and their kids do not necessarily go through to better life outcomes than the same kids who go through public schools. They pluck the best and brightest from poor areas, leaving the truly tough cases to public schools, but market themselves as if they are taking the tough cases, when in truth they are constantly weeding them out and abandoning responsibility for them.There's a great movie in there, but like all great education movies, the truth is very easy to lose in our collective desire to treat all narratives as heroic ones.

  • Joanne
    2019-03-21 00:19

    I've been interested in the KIPP (Knowledge is Power) schools as an alternative model, since they appear occasionally in the educational media. This book gives a great history of how two former Teach for America teachers developed a national organization of schools -- lots and lots of time invested, lots of challenges from bureaucracy, lots of unexpected bumps. It took a lot of energy and a lot of commitment, and it looks like it works really well for some kids. The critics jump on that "some kids" part, pointing at the high attrition rate and so on, but given the low-income, crummily schooled population they're usually dealing with, some is certainly better than none, which is the default. We'll see if KIPP can sustain their momentum over time. They rely heavily on a young, single teaching force, but they're trying to build in more flexibility so that they're able to keep people longer. I think people generally interested in alternative public models of schooling would be interested in this book, as would anyone interested in starting something new.

  • Molly
    2019-03-15 20:15

    This book is basically the "life and times" of the KIPP program. The book is very well written, but unfortunately, the subject matter isn't the best. KIPP, in my area, is referred to as "the cult." Teachers I know that have been part of it or know others who have all say they suck the life out of you during the best years of your professional life and then spit you out when they've finished leaching off you. From what I have read in this book, I can see why that is the case.[return]I'm not reviewing the program though, so I guess I'll just say that this book is an interesting insight into the minds of a couple of madmen. I wouldn't really recommend it though.

  • Jeremy
    2019-02-21 02:09

    Jay Mathews tells the compelling story of how two young teachers created and expanded the KIPP schools, one of the most fascinating national charter school programs. Mathews' writes in a clear, engaging way but his effusive love for his subjects is occasionally trying. A worthwhile read for anyone in (or interested in) education.

  • Maria
    2019-03-22 22:19

    I struggled with the organization of the book... It jumped around in time and parts of it seemed really disconnected. I felt like the end of the book became an advertisement KIPP schools. It wasn't a critical lense but rather a presentation of statistics supporting the work they and TfA are doing.

  • Oliver
    2019-02-20 03:29

    Writing is not the best, but I love the school. Made my first donation to the KIPP Foundation about 45 minutes after finishing.

  • David Glad
    2019-03-16 01:18

    Aside from a great history of an excellent program (Knowledge Is Power Program -- KIPP), it also has nice life lessons with -- as would especially be true of an educational bureaucracy -- power of persistence to push for results. Co-founders Mike Feinberg and David Levin really are the dynamic duo.One of the early observations that stuck out was "Never settle for a bad product or service without complaint," where one of the co-founders instructed his students to begin calling up numbers of administrative officials to push to find out where their school for the next year would be. (It was unclear if it would be continued at the time. The principal thought they were calling from a centralized location rather than going home and calling.) Served as a lesson in citizen democracy/advocacy by having the children demand it.Like anyone looking to buck the dismal trend of education once they conceived the idea for KIPP (while they were still taking part in the Teach for America program), Feinberg and Levin's methods were a bit unconventional. Their early students (who often did not have cable or possibly even home phones) would call the teachers from payphones (calling collect) for homework help outside of school. They would come to the parents' houses, which was hugely frowned upon by the school system and yet the parents appreciated the face-to-face contact, especially the Hispanic ones who had a cultural preference for it. They were mentored by a Houston teacher Harriett Ball, who had superior abilities in engaging a class and appreciated young teachers looking to improve versus most teachers she was surrounded by who had no particular desire to get better but still were annoyed when she was named teacher of the year each year. (Lesson apparently being those who are more experienced and knowledgeable are usually willing to help.)KIPP was unique in that it tried to be a full school year with 50 weeks of school, including summer sessions. During the regular school year it would run from 7:15 until after 5:00 in the late afternoon. Some parents signed their children up because it essentially was free daycare for them but with the added results. Employed song/rhythm and really engaged the 9 and 10-year-olds to make learning fun. (Among hiccups at start of a new year were getting students from other schools in to the habit of turning in homework.) Some of the teachers earned more than regular teachers, but they also worked a LOT more hours. The pitch to students was they would get McDonald's or Wendy's (I would like to believe the food was healthier back in the 90s.. probably not) for lunch on Saturdays (4 hour weekend session), while also having their breakfast and I think another snack provided for them throughout the day. If they were well-behaved and performed excellently, they would get to go on a class trip. (One was to DC where Feinberg spotted a busy Justice Breyer and managed to get him to say hi to the students for a brief moment, but he decided to let his meeting wait after finding the students exceptional after one asked him whether he ruled in Miranda v. Arizona -- before his time -- and asked a follow-up on how he would have voted. Another was a road trip to the Grand Canyon where the students were amazed when they were driving in the desert, which the teachers realized next time they should wake up early to fully see all of their students' reactions.) One of the early mishaps with this program was when they spent $1000+ of their own money to take the students to AstroWorld but due to scarce resources decided to rent a U-Haul truck to bring the students in which might have offended Hispanics in the neighborhood due to unintentionally perpetuating a stereotype. (Small consolation the teacher sat in the back with the students.) Also worth noting that a super-majority of the students performed excellently on standardized tests when previously teachers would try to get them exempted to prevent the school from looking bad or losing some funding.They saw problems as usually being opportunities.. hard-fought opportunities, where they had to press the principal of their first school, the school superintendent and various other officials to try to get the class space needed for their program. (Including one year being forced into a rather small room for 50+ students after their intended classroom was stolen from beneath them by an art teacher who had a good-sized enrollment and due to some fire code rule that permitted easier exit from the school in event of emergency for the younger children. Another episode they were stuck getting a school 45 minutes away from the parents' homes, even if the benefit was it was in an affluent white neighborhood without the drugs or gang problems of being next to the inner-city high school as was originally intended.. initial pitch was the students would be in class when the high school students arrived and left so as to prevent any interaction among them.) Some schools did not explicitly discourage "rogue" behavior such as teaching students outdoors or in the school library when there was a lack of school space provided due to the schools often being consumed by more urgent matters.As for the expansion to the South Bronx, the mostly black residents were cynical of authority figures versus the Houston Hispanics who perceived themselves as upwardly mobile and welcomed chances to provide the best opportunities for their children. The book did chronicle the nice evolution of the program and being somewhat aggressive in getting the students. (As they offered more grade levels, they would even get siblings of children to join the program.)When some students initially moved on but struggled at the new school not being as powerful an experience, Levin and Feinberg would try to give encouragement on how they needed to take charge of their own education. (Even as they realized it a bit of a cop-out for a struggling student.)Since everyone's a critic: Among criticisms KIPP would face would be selection bias for the students they admitted. ("Not enough successful blacks", siphoning money from the cattle err children of public schools despite how KIPP receives less funding per pupil.) Barely any union presence. (One of their boards did have a labor union leader who thought the KIPP model was excellent.)As for added notes on parents' perceptions, a lot of them thought of KIPP as being like inner-city Catholic schools with warm but strict teachers. Every so often in subsequent years, some parents would pull their children out of KIPP and claim they would be stellar students back at regular schools. (Author analogized it to American Idol where friends and relatives of failed contestants had always been told how great they are. Meanwhile, they were screened out at the preliminary stage.)So overall an excellent book on battles within the past two decades to improve inner-city education, even if this clearly is an ongoing process even if they sure have a lot of KIPP schools these days. Relatively quick read on my part and even this review -- as of this writing -- was somewhat hastily assembled from notes scribbled as I made my way through. I will refine it somewhat in the coming days.

  • Margaret
    2019-03-06 23:33

    ere are some interesting thoughts from Margaret Paynich, a long-standing contributor to this blog, about Jay Mathews' KIPP book:Work hard mural "I picked up Jay Mathews' book, "Work Hard. Be Nice." and decided to read it without knowing what it was about. Mathews tells a great story about Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin starting the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) in Houston, Texas, fresh out of Teach for America training in Los Angeles. I was easily enamored with Feinberg and Levin's passion for their students, their drive to make KIPP work no matter the obstacles, and the astonishing success and growth of KIPP. "Mathews makes the claim that KIPP schools are the best model of raising students to new heights of achievement by doing the most to overcome poverty, apathy, and racial and class bias. While there are critics of KIPP and critics of Mathews' claim, the one message I took from the book that I hope will receive critical thinking - how do we ensure that our public schools can take the most advantage of the groundbreaking ideas educators are discovering? "What I will remember most about the book is how hard it was for Feinberg and Levin to find support in their Houston and New York City school systems for KIPP. The should be a system for embracing successful strategies in our public schools. I think part of the problem is that our school systems are largely out of date and were designed for educating students from hundreds of years ago. "Now we have a school structure that is not designed to have each child succeed to the best of his or her ability - yet we claim it does. These structures have made it difficult for administrators to focus on much more than what they need to do to keep their own jobs - which may not include helping teachers or students reach their own potential. "I believe that the public needs to demand a solution from their legislators. Education professionals have been doing the best they can - but I don't think they can do it alone anymore. I understand that legislation is part of the problem - legislation that is passed without proper attention to those who have to carry it out - but those policies can be reversed through legislation. "This summer I am piloting a project in Warwick, RI in which I intend to explain to the citizens of Warwick how the complicated education system works and what his or her public role is in ensuring the best possible education we can provide. I will be walking door-to-door this summer introducing individuals to the school committee, showing them afterschool and mentoring programs they can volunteer for, and hoping to inspire individuals to take a better responsibility for their role as citizens."

  • Clint
    2019-03-10 02:18

    The book itself was well written by Jay Mathews, an education reporter from the Washington Post. Regarding the content and the idea of KIPP ( charter school) I did not like as much. The two teachers who started the charter school KIPP came from the Teach for America program, which places teachers (who don't normally get a education degree from college) into low economic and poor testing schools. After a few months of working in these schools, Levin and Feinberg come to the conclusion that the public school system doesn't care about the students. So they adventure off into creating this charter school where they spend 24/7 all for their time dedicated to their students. KIPP is set up for students to go to school from 7:30am to 5pm every day and every other Saturday for half a day. They also go for 3-4 weeks every summer, are assigned 2 hours of homework every night. So why would any student want to do this.... well many of the parents put them in the class (started out as a 5th grade class and eventually expanded to cater to 8th grade as time and resources became available) because it was free after-school daycare until 5pm, free meals and daycare every other Saturday and 3-4 weeks in the summer. What low economic parent struggling with finances wouldn't take advantage of this situation. Now what about the kids themselves. They did improve their learning and test scores (moving from below average to above average within the year) but it was coerced by the teachers with bribes, like lunches from McDonald's, and week long trips to Washington D.C. Well some might say, that's not so bad, trips can be educational. The teachers also used punitive methods as well, like bullying students by getting in their faces and belittling them in front the other students, and then turning around and telling the student that they need to show everyone respect... I guess they were modeling the "Do as I say, not what I do" method. For the most part, I was really put off on how these two guys showed little respect for other teachers in the public school system, administrators, their own students, and the education field in general. There methods might result in the numbers, but are these students going to grow up and be inspired to learn new things on their own for their own self-gratification or will they continue to need someone yelling in their face and telling them what to do?

  • Fyza Jazra
    2019-03-06 03:38

    "Work Hard. Be Nice" is story of the formation of the KIPP Charter schools by renowned education journalist Jay Matthews. His previous book,"Escalante: The Best Teacher in America", about the famous Calculus teacher in LA district was the source for the movie "Stand and Deliver". In a sense, this book is also written in a format suited to be adopted as a feel good Hollywood movie.The book chronicles the journey of two white young privileged guys, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, who end up creating one of the most successful charter schools for underprivileged kids in America. They call their schools KIPP, an acronym for a chant they have their student perform:"Knowledge is Power,Power is Freedom,And We want it."(also "Word Hard. Be Nice" is the Motto of the KIPP Schools)Mike and Dave met while as roommates for the Teach for America Program. After finishing the program they moved to the Houston school district to teach 5th grade. It is there that they started developing key skills to teach students to help them succeed in school and stay motivated towards their goals. Mike and Dave are showcased as exceptionally great teachers who never give up. Their students started to show incredible progress and that further encouraged them to formalize their teaching methodologies and start a program within their school. The number of students in their program increased and they started taking on more grades, more schools, and schools in different cities. They faced a lot of backlash from other teachers and administrators but eventually a hefty donation from GAP founders Donald and Doris F. Fisher helped them in achieving their goals of expansion. Though this expansion did have its sets of issues. For example, KIPP State exam scores, that were once way higher than the test scores of Public School, started to stagnate. Not all the teachers they hired were as inspirational as Mike and Dave and their students also started to drop out of school, just like the students in struggling Public Schools.And this is where the book fails, as I felt that Matthews did not explore this topic any further. He did not address the reasons why KIPP nowadays faces so much criticism from experts in the education field. He mentions at the end of the book that he is working on another book about KIPP as a larger organization but it has been 7 years since "work nice" was published and Matthew did come up with a new book last year though it was not about KIPP.

  • Tensy
    2019-02-22 21:18

    What's the recipe for educational excellence? First you get two inexperienced college graduates, send them to an inner-city school, have them observe an innovative teacher in action, and throw in a pinch of idealism, energy and enthusiasm and what you get is KIPP (knowledge is power program). Levin and Feinberg straight out of Yale and Penn decided to join the, then brand new, Teach for America corps. They met at the training sessions and found an immediate connection playing basketball. Soon they were thrown into a Houston inner city school to sink or swim. They survived that first year thanks to Ms. Ball, a wonderful teacher at their school, who took them under her wing and taught them her creative chants for learning math and reading. They soon came up with the idea of starting a charter school which would incorporate some of the ideas they had discussed in their first two years as teachers, mainly (1) high expectations, (2) choice and commitment, (3) more school time, including longer days and Saturdays, (4) power to lead their own schools, and (5) focusing on results.The book reads like a novel (I would even venture to predict a movie option), and Mathews does a wonderful job of mixing up the chapters with descriptions of Levin and Feinberg, anecdotes about particular students, and the major battles the duo encountered in establishing their charter schools. Since the establishment of the first Houston and Brooklyn schools, KIPP now has 66 schools nationwide, most of them performing as well as the first ones. About 80% of KIPP students have family incomes low enough to qualify for federal lunch subsidies. The success of the schools is evidenced by improvement in test-scores. Within three years the student's test scores improved on average from the 34th percentile to the 58th percentile in reading and from the 44th percentile to the 83rd percentile in math. The school's motto: "Work hard, be nice" seems to be working for these students. I especially enjoyed the chant that Ball would make her students recite, which Levin and Feinberg appropriated for the name of their school:You gotta read, baby, readYou gotta read, baby, readThe more your read, the more you know,'Cause knowledge is power, Power is money, and I want it.

  • Paul Signorelli
    2019-03-05 21:10

    Jay Mathews, as a long-time education writer for the Washington Post, displays an enviable ability to produce a real page-turner on a topic far from the top of the average person's reading list. The narrative flow is far more engaging than much of what we find in contemporary novels; the emotional engagement he fosters has us rooting for his protagonists and feeling the occasional personal losses he documents. As he chronicles the story of Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin’s journey from being two inexperienced yet idealistic, highly energetic, and incredibly persistent Teach for America alums to running a successful chain of charter schools--the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP)--serving disadvantaged children, he tells an archetypal tale that any trainer-teacher-learner can appreciate. As we absorb the wonderful story of how they engaged their youngest learners in actions to shame reticent school district officials into action--thereby providing a lesson in civics by inspiring the students to engage in civic action--we have an extremely important example of the importance of providing learning opportunities that are grounded in experience that puts what is being learned into action--experiential learning at its best. It's not all rosy in "Work Hard, Be Nice." Mathews and his interviewees do not shy away from acknowledging the occasional small and large failures that sometimes come from overzealous actions. We are, however, never in doubt as to where Mathews himself stands on the issue of whether KIPP is worth studying: "Over time, the debate about KIPP among educators has grown, full of misinformation and misimpressions because few of the people talking about KIPP schools have actually seen them in action," he writes (p. 281). And he fully intends to continue exploring the KIPP model, he adds: "In the search for the best schools, I still have a lot of work to do" (p. 317).

  • Nicole
    2019-03-07 21:11

    4.5 stars. I became interested in KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) and its founders, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg, after reading Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. The high quality public school program (open to all children, but mainly focused on inner-city kids) requires students to attend school from 7:30-5:00, on Saturdays and during some of the summer. These motivated students (and their teachers) have thrived in this structured ordered environment, and they have the test scores to prove it.This book is about Levin and Feinberg, and how they launched this program. An interesting story, to be sure, but what was disheartening was that they essentially started KIPP in response to what they deemed poor quality education, and to discount the theory that poorer kids can't learn. Their run-ins with various administration and other educators seem to underscore that there is a serious lack of motivation in some public education sectors these days to improve learning and test scores. Of course, there are now many charter schools, KIPP programs, etc. to give parents a choice, but they are still limited to a few available spots - what happens to the rest?Anyway, some interesting issues in the realm of education. Personally, this is a topic of hot debate in my son's own public school, and as a PTO Board Member, I gained some new insights into classroom learning and administrative officials. But more than anything, I loved the message that people can achieve anything they want to - which is, more than math, science, reading, etc. - what KIPP teaches its students. And they seem to be succeeding in leaps and bounds.Recommended to those interested in the education process and models of learning. Also, just a great story about two guys who have made a difference in the lives of many.

  • Rick
    2019-03-04 02:11

    The accomplishments of Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg may fall a mite short of the full superlative of the subtitle but they are nonetheless inspiring and their network of schools promising exemplars of educational reform. Mathews crafts a speedy narrative with flashbacks and sidebars and personal touches to describe the two Teach for America prodigies, one from New York’s East Side and the other from Chicago, who are transplanted to Houston, where they come under the influence of Harriet Ball and, later, Rafe Esquith, two master teachers whose practices they borrow, adapt, and graft on to a model that in a few short years becomes KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program). The two founders worked together in Houston to found the first KIPP school and then Levin returned to New York to found the second. Now KIPP is a network of schools spread across the country, working to replicate excellence with growth. Mathews writes in a Sunday magazine feature style, which makes the book a light and entertaining read. The good part of that is you get a strong feel for both teachers’ personalities, energy, urgency, and passion for education. You also get a very strong idea about the culture of the KIPP schools and how that is built with attention to relationships and purpose. You get less of a sense of how the actual program is organized and built…what, for example, does recruitment of staff look like? How are they trained and equipped? How do they manage the nuts and bolts of planning the instructional program? It’s more inspiring than practically instructive, but inspiration to a field where inspiration is often lacking is no small thing. Nor is it a bad start for those who are talented and committed to making a change to have such an example. It demonstrates that with dedication, creativity, and a refusal to be stopped you can and will succeed.

  • Em
    2019-03-20 00:25

    I read "Work Hard, Be Nice" at the request of my roommate, because the organization she works for here in Tbilisi (Radarami) is translating it into Georgian and will publish it next month. She wanted my opinion on the book, and what I thought about publishing it here in Georgia. I read the book quite fast--the writing was great and I found this non-fiction story much more compelling than the novel I'm reading at the moment. There were many times reading this book where my reaction was "Yes! Exactly! This is what we need!" and other times where I was somewhat horrified. I love the philosophy of "Work Hard, Be Nice" and think that the idea of mutual respect and encouragement could do great things in Georgian schools. I also love the creativity shown by the KIPP teachers in these books. These are things that I've seen a real lack of in Georgian schools and from Georgian teachers, and they're the things that I think are most important to me as a teacher (like Feinberg and Levin, I started teaching without really knowing what I was doing, but I cared). Some of their methods and discipline seem quite cruel though. I think this is a great book to start a conversation. However, here there isn't much follow-up information available in Georgian, and I'm afraid that people will latch onto this methodology the way they latch onto many other ideas, and go after it full-tilt without nuance or analysis, which scares me. KIPP-style education would, IMHO, be a vast improvement on the status quo in Georgian schools, but I don't know if it's the best way forward. I hope people take this book as the start to a discussion, not the end.

  • Carla
    2019-02-26 02:38

    While some of the writing and storytelling was lackluster, I found the facts inspiring. As an educator, this book gave me quite a bit of food for thought. This book is an expose (warts and all) of the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) Schools. These charter schools (now plentiful and nationwide) were started in Texas and NYC in the '90s by two Teach for America alums (Levin and Feinberg). These young men had little in the way of real teacher training. What they did have, though, were innate qualities and skills that reached young people in the classroom and a vision about how to fix what was failing young people in American public schools in the lowest income areas. Feinberg and Levin found outstanding mentors (experienced teachers they admired), devised and polished skills and a school structure and engaged parents in new ways to support their children's educational experience. First-rate teaching (that produced quantifiable results) and over-the-top teacher commitment were two features that promised a successful educational experience. They were these teachers and in their schools, they recycled teachers that did not meet that mark. KIPP is grassroots educational reform at its best and is now replicated today in many other cities and programs (including Achievement First in New Haven). This is a must read for anyone who cares about education and the achievement gap in our schools.

  • David
    2019-02-20 00:33

    Should school be organized more for the convenience of teachers and administrators or for the benefit of students? The answer might seem obvious -- for the students, of course! But one of the odd effects reading Jay Mathews' book about KIPP had was to prompt me to wonder, just a little in a back corner of my mind, just how far a "students first, students always" approach can unhesitatingly be endorsed. Yes, for both students and teachers, hard work and persistence in the face of difficulty have way more to contribute to learning and achievement than misplaced notions of talent so common to the American milieu. Yes, figuring out ways to keep each and every student active and engaged for sustained periods of class time, and gaining control over behavior and classroom management problems, are key conditions for success. Yes, a longer school day and a longer school year would provide one important (if by itself insufficient) condition for effective education. But are these educational goods to be pursued and won by asking -- or is it requiring? -- the adults in the room -- the teachers and administrators -- to sacrifice every other aspect of their lives, work 18-hour days, forego vacations and any semblance of a personal life, and take vows of poverty? Maybe so. But I wonder.

  • David
    2019-02-28 23:28

    Detailed account of the co-founders of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school franchise, which has mushroomed nationally incl. in my city (DC Key academy). I read the author regularly in Wx Post and online, so a lot of the slant he puts on it (all kids can learn if challenged sufficiently in school; administrators are mostly obfuscatory dopes who set out to squelch innovative teaching) was very familiar.Longer on anecdotes, including on the love lives of the protagonists, than on critical analysis of the research on KIPP, but he at least acknowledges some of the concerns that have been raised about the early evidence of dramatic improvements associated with longer school days, rigid discipline, autonomous principals, and no-union-need-apply work/hiring rules.Overall, I found it very inspiring. Seems not coincidental that the founders were Teach for America alums -- I would never have predicted when I was in college that teaching in urban low-SES public schools would become the cool thing to do for recent graduates of selective colleges. Lots of mistakes along the way, but the overall approach of high expectations and willingness to experiment (as long as you pay attention to the results and adjust accordingly) seems to have tremendous potential.

  • ♔Ƙƴℓιє♔
    2019-03-13 00:16

    This book was a wonderful detailed account of two Teach For America teachers who saw injustice in the schooling of underprivileged children and sought to change it. It provides a detailed and honest account of the struggles they went through in order to establish their KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) and eventually their own charter school. I definitely recommend this book to any current or future teacher specifically those who want to teach in urban settings or middle school. Mike and Levin are everything every teacher aspires to be and the success of their program speaks for itself. This book was brilliantly written and didn't sugar coat the struggles they faced among the school district and even in their own disagreements. Even the way the book was divided into "periods" with "study halls" at the end of each to catch you up on current KIPP progress was great. It really demonstrated the heart of these teachers and the struggles and rewards of teaching these children. This book was a joy to read and truly inspiring- and gave great advice to teachers without throwing it in your face.