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Work Hard, Be Nice (2009)

by Jay Mathews

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2662872,408 (3.56)6
Washington Post education reporter Mathews delves into the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and follows the enterprise's founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, from their days as young educators in the Teach for America program to heading one of the country's most controversial education programs running today.… (more)
  1. 00
    On the rocketship : how top charter schools are pushing the envelope by Richard Whitmire (bluenotebookonline)
    bluenotebookonline: Two highly readable--and very different--books that tell the story of how high-performing charter networks were founded. They're good complements to one another and both are important stories for anyone trying to understand the charter school movement.… (more)
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    How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character by Paul Tough (bluenotebookonline)
    bluenotebookonline: Both books feature an in-depth look at KIPP: Mathews focuses on the organization's early development and growth, while Tough focuses on KIPP's efforts to improve in later years.
  3. 00
    Seven Simple Secrets: What the BEST Teachers Know and Do! by Annette L. Breaux (justella)

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Too much anecdotal information about the lives of the KIPP founders and not enough information about the actual workings of the school, and research of their success. ( )
  luzdelsol | Jul 31, 2020 |
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). ( )
  paulsignorelli | Jun 18, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An interesting "history" of the KIPP schools and the techniques used therein. I had heard of the the program prior to reading this book, but knew little about it. As one with an interest in education, I found this book to be a fascinating account of some pretty impressive gains among students who had not found much success prior to their participation in the program. A worthwhile read.
  cao9415 | Jan 6, 2011 |
This is an inspiring book detailing the struggles of two young Teach for America participants who ended up starting the now-famous KIPP schools. It would be easy to come away from this book believing that all our inner-city schools (and the failing rural schools that get much less publicity) should follow the KIPP model. Close examination of the student stories in this book, as in so many other similar books, will however reveal that parent involvement is crucial to student success, even if the involvement is as little as signing a form to agree to a school change. Sadly, there are still many parents who can't or won't manage even that level of engagement with their children's learning. ( )
  auntieknickers | Nov 17, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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Many people in the United States believe that low-income children can no more be expected to do well in school than ballerinas can be counted on to excel in football.
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Washington Post education reporter Mathews delves into the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and follows the enterprise's founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, from their days as young educators in the Teach for America program to heading one of the country's most controversial education programs running today.

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