Paul Tough

Writer & Speaker

Posts Tagged ‘KIPP’

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Talking about Character

Two recent broadcast/podcast interviews about my article in the New York Times Magazine on character education at KIPP and Riverdale. On the American RadioWorks weekly podcast about education, I talked about the article with Stephen Smith, the host of the podcast. Audio here.

And on Minnesota Public Radio’s morning show, David Levin of KIPP and author David Shenk discussed the article and KIPP’s approach to character. Audio here.

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Character reaction

There’s been a lot of interesting commentary, from a variety of sources, on my article for the New York Times Magazine on character education, which draws on some of the reporting that I’ve been doing for my next book, “The Success Equation.” On the Times’s Motherlode blog, Lisa Belkin published a guest commentary on the article from a mother named Melissa Sher, who writes,

Life can be more than messy: bad things happen. But our job as parents isn’t to stop them all from happening. Because we can’t. Instead, we can try to make our kids feel loved, valued and secure.  So, if we’re lucky, when our children do fall or if things fall apart around them, they’ll get back up.

Evan Osnos, on his “Letter from China” blog on the New Yorker’s site, wrote about how an article like mine might go over in China today:

It will be years before any Chinese magazine sells a story like that on its cover, but achievement, classically defined, has lost some luster.

On the Atlantic’s site, Edward Tenner, an historian, relates the character push by KIPP and Riverdale to similiar discussions of character in the 19th and 20th centuries. He concludes,

It may be that today’s successful city people — the parents of day school students — are likely to have parents or grandparents who did defy adversity, overcoming failure. Many of them sacrificed precisely so that their grandchildren wouldn’t have to. Private school costs may be stratospheric, but if you have to ask the price of some forms of resilience, you can’t afford them.

In the Financial Times, Luke Johnson took a business approach, asserting that the values that KIPP and Riverdale are trying to instill “could equally be the defining criteria for entrepreneurs.”

And on the National Review’s domestic-policy blog, Reihan Salam wrote about the passage in my article when KIPP teacher Sayuri Stabrowski turns a gum-chewing dispute with a student into a deeper discussion about character. Salam writes:

For some reason I found this very moving. It is easy for any of us to feel powerless in the face of trying circumstances, and this is particularly true of adolescents. Yet this student is being taught, in a fairly unsentimental, straightforward way, that she has the capacity for self-control, and that she has an obligation, to her fellow students, her teacher, and to herself, to exercise it.

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Times Magazine article on character

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine includes an article I wrote about character education. It focuses on a collaborative project between the KIPP schools in New York City and Riverdale Country School — a project that I’m also writing about in my book “The Success Equation,” which is due out in the fall of 2012. On the Times’s new SchoolBook blog, as an adjunct to the article, they’re soliciting reader questions for David Levin, the superintendent of KIPP NYC, and Dominic Randolph, the head of Riverdale.

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Boston Review review

From the May/June issue of the Boston Review, a long and thoughtful review by James Forman Jr. of “Whatever It Takes” and Jay Mathews’s book on KIPP, “Work Hard. Be Nice.”

My favorite section was on something that doesn’t get mentioned much in either book: segregation.

It says something important that the schools offered up as our best hopes are so completely segregated. It says even more that neither Tough nor Mathews feels the need to address the question of segregation in their books.

It is a tragedy that we have taken integration off the table. Perhaps I believe this because my parents—one black, one white—met in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and saw themselves as part of a struggle for an integrated, beloved community. Perhaps it is because I am still moved by Thurgood Marshall’s argument that our nation will only learn to live together when our children learn together. Or maybe it is because of my lingering fear that if poor kids are isolated in schools of their own, they will inevitably end up being shortchanged by a society content with massive wealth inequality. If we make schools better and improve the lives of some kids (or, in Canada’s case, a whole neighborhood) but do nothing to disrupt segregation, are we simply making separate a little more equal?

Despite these misgivings, I think I know how Canada, Feinberg, and Levin would defend their choice. I know it because, when I saw the terrible schools for jailed kids in D.C., I felt an obligation to help create a better alternative, even though I knew that almost every child in the school would be African-American and that most would be poor. I recognized the urgency of offering those kids the support and resources that no other program was going to provide. But I do not want to live in a society that accepts this situation as inevitable. And I am confident that Canada, Feinberg, and Levin do not, either.

Sunday, November 9th, 2008

Feinberg on Education

In today’s Houston Chronicle, Mike Feinberg, one of the founders of the KIPP family of charter schools, offers advice on education policy to President-elect Obama, including this suggestion:

Focus on the early years: Even in this time of economic uncertainty, we need to make critical investments in pre-K and early childhood education.

In his recent book Whatever It Takes, New York Times Magazine editor Paul Tough notes that by age 3, children in low-income communities have been exposed to 20 million fewer words than their more affluent peers. By providing a language-rich learning environment at an early age, schools can offset this gap and give children the tools they need to succeed.