Work Hard, Be Nice: Book summary and reviews of Work Hard, Be Nice by Jay Mathews

Work Hard, Be Nice

How Two Inspired Teachers Created America's Best Schools

by Jay Mathews

Work Hard, Be Nice by Jay Mathews X
Work Hard, Be Nice by Jay Mathews
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2009
    320 pages
    Genre: Advice

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Book Summary

When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin signed up for Teach for America right after college and found themselves utter failures in the classroom, they vowed to remake themselves into superior educators. They did that—and more. In their early twenties, by sheer force of talent and determination never to take no for an answer, they created a wildly successful fifth-grade experience that would grow into the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), which today includes sixty-six schools in nineteen states and the District of Columbia.

KIPP schools incorporate what Feinberg and Levin learned from America's best, most charismatic teachers: lessons need to be lively; school days need to be longer (the KIPP day is nine and a half hours); the completion of homework has to be sacrosanct (KIPP teachers are available by telephone day and night). Chants, songs, and slogans such as "Work hard, be nice" energize the program. Illuminating the ups and downs of the KIPP founders and their students, Mathews gives us something quite rare: a hopeful book about education.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[A]n insightful and enlightening book." - Publishers Weekly.

"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 Reviews.

"In Work Hard, Be Nice, Jay Mathews captures the exuberance, intelligence, and plain old-fashioned stick-to-itiveness of two young educators. Like them, the book is filled with energy and hope. It's why KIPP schools are successful and why this book should be read by everyone who cares about education in our country." - Richard W. Riley, former U.S. Secretary of Education.

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Author Information

Jay Mathews

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.

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