The 2009 Charles Bronfman Prize shines its light on the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), a national network of free, college preparatory charter schools designed to give kids from disadvantaged backgrounds the best possible education.
As a former public school teacher, I hold KIPP in the highest regard. Founders Michael Feinberg and David Levin are accomplishing what everyone else hopes to achieve. They are the go-to address for social innovation in inner city public education.
Proof from the statistics:
- 100% of KIPP 8th graders outperformed district and state averages on math, reading, and language arts tests
- 80% of KIPP students matriculate to college (average for low income students is 20%)
Replicating the Model
So how do they do it? What’s the KIPP model and how can other schools replicate it?
The good news is that KIPP is specifically designed to be a replicable. As former Teach For America teachers, Feinberg and Levin sought to design a system of schools specifically for urban, underserved populations that would output highly educated students destined for college.
—– Read more to find out the components of a KIPP education and its Israel connection —–
A major part of the KIPP model is buy-in from all parties involved. Parents, students, and teachers are all held to the same strict standards, which are regularly measured and marked to ensure performance success. KIPP believes in 6 day a week schooling and a longer school day. Students are in school from 7:30 to 5:00, as well as attending every other Saturday and for five weeks over the summer.
Schooling is based on five pillars:
- High Expectations: defined and measurable academic goals in a community-based culture of achievement
- Choice and Commitment: all students opt-in to the KIPP charter school system. Before each academic year, parents, students and teachers sign a “Commitment to Excellence”
- More Time: more classroom time to recuperate from existing gaps and strive toward higher learning
- Power to Lead: the KIPP schooling network actively seeks great teachers and school leaders and activates funding to bring them to their classrooms
- Focus on Results: in their own words, “Just as there are no shortcuts, there are no excuses. Students are expected to achieve a level of academic performance that will enable them to succeed at the nation’s best high schools and colleges.”
The Bronfman Prize’s Choice of KIPP: Why It Matters
Why is it important that the Bronfman Prize is honoring this program?
KIPP serves the underserved. They seek to directly improve the lives of those in communities that have chosen to participate. KIPP honors the Jewish value of tikkun olam by seeking to right a wrong– the broken system of urban education in America. KIPP’s success provides a model for others. –> When you get a chance to look at their website, check out the teacher and school leadership programs, which I consider to be one of the most powerful elements of the KIPP system.
The Bronfman Prize seeks to recognize those whose “Jewish values infuse their humanitarian accomplishments,” seeking those who have significantly contributed to the betterment of the world through science, technology, art, culture, education, and global citizenship. Feinberg and Levin epitomize these values.
Feinberg and Levin will partner with the LeoBaeck Education Institute in Haifa to create a school designed on the KIPP model for Arab and Jewish students from disadvantaged backgrounds in the north of Israel.
This effort will connect existing ties for both Charles Bronfman and Michael Feinberg. Bronfman and his wife Andrea (Z”L) founded the Karev Foundation in Jerusalem, which in turn partnered with the Israeli Ministry of Education to create the Karev Program. Like KIPP, the Karev Program is an education enrichment model featuring extended school days and a wider curriculum of arts, sports, and sciences to enhance students’ educational experience.
For his part, Feinberg’s devotion to making a difference in the lives of children was first inspired in 1991 when he came to Israel to work with Ethiopian Jewish immigrants, recently arrived on Operation Solomon’s emergency airlifts. He says: “The experience convinced me of the power of teaching to make a difference.”
There is no doubt that the coalition of Charles Bronfman’s Karev program and Michael Feinberg and David Levin’s KIPP model will raise the standard of education for the children of Israel wherever it is applied.
* Title photo sourced from KIPP’s Winter 2009 newsletter.
If you liked this post, you may also enjoy:
- “A Personal Manifesto: My Path to Jewish Communal Service” (2007)— I am also an alumna of Teach For America.
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