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Work Hard. Be Nice

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About the Author

JAY MATHEWS covers education for the Washington Post and has created Newsweek's annual Best High Schools rankings. He has won the Benjamin Fine Award for Outstanding Education Reporting for both features and column writing and is the author of six previous books, including Escalante: The Best Teacher in America, about the teacher who was immortalized in the movie Stand and Deliver.


In 1994, frustrated by the widely held attitude that low-income students were incapable of academic success, teachers Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin founded the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP; www.kipp.org), which emphasizes the "joy factor" of learning and is today implemented in 82 schools nationwide. Here, Washington Post education reporter Mathews clearly demonstrates the enthusiasm, hard work, and dedication of the KIPP teachers and students, while Audie Award winner J. Paul Boehmer does a credible job of portraying Feinberg and Levin. Sure to inspire both educators and parents, especially those looking to make a difference in schools performing poorly and in need of change. [The Algonquin pb, published in January, was a New York Times best seller.-Ed.]-Theresa Stoner, St. Joseph Cty. P.L., South Bend, IN Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

Mathews's sprawling narrative traces the birth and early development of the controversial Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) through the eyes of its charismatic young founders, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin. J. Paul Boehmer captures both the fiery idealism and initial naOvete in the voices of the two protagonists as they parlay their postcollege Teach for America stint in inner-city Houston into a bold national experiment in classroom instruction and school governance. Boehmer provides an especially memorable portrayal of Feinberg and Levin's early mentor Harriett Ball, a veteran educator whose commanding presence conveys both maternal warmth and tough determination. Boehmer only misfires once, when he fails to provide a cue that he is shifting from storytelling into an expository section analyzing the KIPP track record. An Algonquin hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 13). (Apr.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"A vivid account of two young men who transform themselves from 'terrible' first-year teachers into visionaries."-USA Today

-- "USA Today"

A lively account of the way two young guys with more passion than knowledge overcame bureaucratic and financial barriers, garnered knowledge from experienced teachers, and made those ideas and techniques core KIPP ideas. Mathews makes his book as entertaining as any novel by weaving personal and professional stories and by surrounding his two stars with interesting characters. --World magazine

-- "USA Today"

Mathews does a smart, respectable job here. Frankly elucidating the major struggles and roadblocks inherent in attempting to reform how underprivileged children are taught, he nonetheless leaves readers convinced of the truth in Levin's idealistic statement on his Teach for America application: "an educator could change lives." A grand example of humanitarianism in the classroom: Naysayers who believe there's no hope for America's inner-city schools haven't met Feinberg and Levin.--Kirkus

-- "USA Today"
"The improbable story of how KIPP was founded in 1994 by David Levin and Michael Feinberg, two young Teach for America alumni in Houston, is thrilling and worthy reading."--Slate-- "USA Today"

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