Knowledge Is Power Program

Charter school building on Houston success
— reported by the Houston Chronicle

The story of KIPP comes in a rush from Mike Feinberg, its edges worn smooth by years of retelling.There is the beginning: A pair of frustrated fifth-grade teachers devise a new, intensive teaching approach, pounding it all out one night in the fall of 1993 while U2 played endlessly in the background. They name it the Knowledge Is Power Program and convince the Houston Independent School District to let them try it for a year.

And there is the middle: Emboldened by the success on a small scale with 50 students in the same grade level, Feinberg and Dave Levin start two charter schools, one in Houston and one in New York, targeting poor minority kids. Their students end up outperforming their counterparts in traditional public schools.

And finally the end: The KIPP experiment, having proved itself, is repeated in cities around the country, 52 of them in 17 states by 2007. Most are successful. Eight out of 10 KIPP students who left high school in 2004 and 2005 end up in four-year colleges. KIPP becomes a hit with politicians and the media and even makes an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.


Author: Paloma Cruz

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