Knowledge is Power Program: A Strong Model for Public Schools

Knowledge is power. It is a phrase that countless schoolchildren have heard from the lips of countless teachers through the years. While for some it’s just meaningless words, for others it is a mantra by which they approach education. The Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) takes that mantra to heart, and after 20 years, has changed the manner in which public school children are taught.
 
KIPP began as the brainchild of two Teach for America workers in 1994. After recognizing that their low-income students were not receiving the support they needed in order to achieve success in school, and later in life, Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg devised a new way to teach middle school students. After convincing the Houston Independent School District to green light their experimental program, Levin and Feinberg built a curriculum that harnessed the power of values held dear by their community – hard work, accountability, high expectations, and a sense of togetherness. From their initial class of 47 students, KIPP has since grown into a network of 162 schools across the nation.
 
KIPP In a Nutshell
 
KIPP was formed in order to bring opportunity to underserved populations through education. KIPP schools, which are public charter schools, are founded on the belief that any child – regardless of his or her socioeconomic status, racial heritage, or other demographic factors – can and will learn if given the appropriate opportunity. And with that opportunity, poverty-stricken children can develop the knowledge and skills they need to graduate from . . . read more
The educational outlook for black boys has long been bleak. In Oakland, nearly one-third of African-American males drop out of high school. In Chicago, black boys lag behind other students in nearly every single measure of academic success. In schools throughout the nation, in large cities and small rural communities, black boys rank near the bottom in most measures of academic achievement and near the top in terms of the number of discipline referrals and suspensions.
 
Some of these statistics must be taken with a grain of salt, however. The American public school system has historically been less than responsive to the needs of black students, but particularly so for black males. Boys of color face many obstacles in life that include absent or unresponsive fathers, violence in the home and in their neighborhood, pressure to join gangs, and substance abuse. Yet schools regularly overlook these factors as being outside their realm of responsibility. Racial profiling by school officials, biased discipline policies, and a culture that engenders fear of young black males compound the problems for an educational system that is unprepared to manage the social, emotional, cultural, and academic needs of black boys.
 
Further compounding the issue is that institutional failures of public school systems serve to label young black students as something they are not. Black males are more likely to be removed from regular education settings and are more often misclassified as mentally retarded. These incorrect actions are taken due to a black student’s poor . . . read more
Inmates in America’s prisons are protected from corporal punishment, yet it is a system of discipline that still exists in public schools in nineteen states. Teachers and principals are allowed to strike a child, either with a paddle, an open hand, or in some cases a ruler, in order to punish them. Students may be struck on the bottom or the upper thighs. Generally speaking, students are directed to bend over a desk or chair while a school official administers the punishment. For safety purposes, it is usually witnessed by another school official, but sometimes the punishment is neither discussed with, nor approved by, the child’s parents.
 
The vast majority of states that still allow these punishments are in the Deep South, where large populations of students of color – especially African-Americans – comprise the student bodies of public schools. Texas leads the way with over 10,000 cases of spanking or paddling each year. However, some states in the West, including Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona, also allow corporal punishment.
 
While these states still allow corporal punishment, many of their school districts have taken it upon themselves to ban the practice. However, many school districts persist in using spanking and paddling as punishment. In fact, according to the Department of Education, each year, hundreds of thousands of students are subjected to corporal punishment. While some districts in larger, urban schools still employ the practice, it occurs mostly in smaller, rural communities. The Department of Education reports that of these students, an . . . read more
The notion of comprehensive education is nothing new, yet with all of the education reforms and testing initatives, has it fallen even further to the wayside?  Are our current curriculum standards robbing children of a real education, in favor of No. 2 pencils scratching on standardized bubbles? 

Many consider John Dewey, the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century philosopher and advocate of progressivism to be the father of student-centered learning. Dewey championed the idea that schools should address a broad spectrum of student needs, rather than drill rote memorization of facts into students’ heads. The addition of school counselors, special education programs, advanced courses for the gifted, and student support services like positive behavior interventions would all fall under the realm of whole-child educational programs that schools throughout the nation have implemented for quite some time.  According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, whole-child education should encompass the following: 

  • Every child comes to school healthy and is supported in his or her pursuit of good mental and physical health through physical education, health, and wellness classes and activities that enrich their lives.
  • Every child learns in an environment that is free from discrimination, upholds the tenets of social justice and equality, and provides opportunities for students to feel valued and respected.
  • Every child is actively engaged in their learning, which is facilitated by hands-on and project-based learning, community service, extracurricular activities, and other programs that extend learning beyond the classroom.
  • Every child participates in personalized learning programs that meet their unique academic, . . . read more
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by a cadre of experts from the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, Achieve, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and other stakeholders, including K-12 science teachers and government officials from 26 states. The standards establish benchmarks that gauge student learning at each grade level from kindergarten through the twelfth grade in the areas of life science, physical science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The standards direct student learning along three dimensions:

  • Practices: Students master investigative behaviors that are key to scientific exploration and theory development about the natural world. These include, but are not limited to, the steps of the Scientific Method and their associated practices.
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Students learn concepts that are applicable to all disciplines of science, using common ideas such as patterns, cause and effect, stability, and change. Using this framework provides an organizational structure in which children can relate knowledge from one scientific field to another.
  • Core Ideas: Seminal concepts within science focus the curriculum on ideas that have broad applicability, provide key tools for understanding ideas and solving problems, relate to social or personal concerns, and are learnable over the course of multiple grades at increasingly deep levels of rigor.

These new-generation standards emphasize the importance of science in daily life, but also seek to prepare students for a rapidly evolving workforce that relies heavily on a deeper understanding of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). STEM-related . . . read more
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Knowledge is Power Program: A Strong Model for Public Schools
Knowledge is Power Program: A Strong Model for Public Schools
As many traditional public schools struggle to close the achievement gap, Knowledge is Power Program schools seem to have the right formula for helping poverty-stricken and minority students achieve success. In this article, we examine how KIPP schools are making their students’ futures much brighter.
Urban Public Schools Come to the Rescue of Black Boys
Public schools across the nation are implementing programs that help keep young black men in school and off the streets. Boosting graduation rates, reducing gang involvement and violence, and providing positive male role models are just a few of the common elements of these programs. Yet, the achievement gap between black boys and other peer groups remains extremely wide.
Teachers in 19 States Allowed to Physically Punish Students
As of 2014, nineteen states still allow corporal punishment – spanking and paddling the most common choices – in their public schools. However, some argue that not only are these punishments physically harmful, they also are disproportionately administered to students of color. As a result, House democrats have taken up the issue in a new bill that would ban all forms of corporal punishment nationwide.