I've finally started reading it. I'm about a third of the way through and so far, I'm feeling more positively towards the founders of the KIPP program and even less positively towards the Teach for America program.
I'm sure I'll post more thoughts as I move on in the book, but I didn't want to forget these early impressions. Teach for America comes across as a rich kid toy, almost. Acceptance into it seems to be seen as an honor, but attending the summer institute seems less important to the pre-service teachers than partying in the evening does. Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg got out of TFA about what they put into it. However, they already felt strongly and passionately about educating disadvantaged students. All TFA did for them was give them an easy place to start.
Levin and Feinberg are smart, dedicated young men. They believe in what they are doing and are trying their best for their students. I'm still not completely sold on KIPP in general, but I am impressed with them. There's still a lot of reading for me to do, so we'll see how that goes.
One of my biggest issues at the moment is with Jay Mathews writing a book that is so pro-KIPP. He has every right to write anything he wishes, but it makes it harder for me to take him seriously as an education reporter. Maybe as I progress more it will seem like less of a cheerleading for KIPP and more balanced. That doesn't mean that I think it has to be equally positive and negative, but so far everything has been overwhelmingly positive. Even when Levin or Feinberg have made mistakes Mathews has immediately shown how it turned out well in the end or what they learned from it. That's great, but it's hard for me to believe that everything was so close to perfect. I'm skeptical that Mathews is writing this through a reporter's eye rather than a supporter's eye.
Again, I'm only a third of the way through the book so my attitudes may change drastically or not at all. It remains to be seen.