'Work Hard. Be Nice.' Introduces America to KIPP

KIPP students at Ujima Village Academy in Baltimore.
Have you met “the hardest-working kids in the country”? Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Bill Gates, Oprah and many others are counting themselves lucky for saying they have. They’re all big fans of the KIPP, Knowledge is Power Program, a low-income urban education program.
Justice Breyer met them by happenstance while heading in to his office one day while the students were on a somewhat disappointing field trip to Washington, D.C. After a teacher begged him to take a moment to say hello to them, he was intrigued when one student asked about his participation in the landmark case Miranda v. Arizona. Taken back, he said it was before his time, and became engaged. He’s been involved with KIPP ever since.
KIPP began in 1994 in a fifth-grade classroom. Today the program is supporting the educational needs of 16,000 preschool to high school students in 19 states and District of Columbia across 66 schools.
The KIPP story can now be found in Work Hard. Be Nice., a new book published by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews. He spent two years researching the KIPP program, talking with parents, visiting 31 KIPP schools, and meeting the program’s founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg.
The founders were first-year teachers who Mathews says became visionaries. This college-prep-style learning program demands dedication and commitment from its students, parents and teachers. Students spend more time in school than their average peer, working until 5p.m. each day, attending Saturday school and summer school.
Mathews says KIPP has figured out how to “harness the power of teaching in a big way … as fuel for that flame, you give those great teachers more time in the day to teach.”
More on this story can be seen at USA Today.