Work Hard. Be Nice.
By Jay Mathews
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2009. 328 pgs. Nonfiction
Mathews, the education reporter at the Washington Post, details the story behind the creation of KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program. Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin were two Ivy League graduates who, unsure of what they wanted to do after graduation, joined the Teach for America Corps in 1992 and were sent to Houston to teach elementary school. They both discovered they had a talent for teaching, but were discouraged by the seemingly pervasive thought that socio-economically disadvantaged children could not learn as well as middle and upper-class children could. Empowered by great mentors, Feinberg and Levin began to imagine a school for these economically challenged children where they would meet for 9 hours a day, two Saturday sessions a month, and three weeks in the summer. Developing the program, finding funding and support, and beginning their beloved project is the heart of this book. Fast-paced and told in engaging prose, this inspiring book challenges the reader’s notions on charter schools. Amazingly, the KIPP Foundation has 66 schools operating in 19 states and Washington, D.C. with plans to open several more this fall.