Mark Feinberg, co-founder of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools and superintendent of KIPP Houston, opened his address to Mead Chapel last Tuesday, May 7, with a description of a traditional Masai warrior greeting.
“How are the children?” says the first Masai warrior, according to Feinberg.
“The children are well,” responds the other.
Feinburg embraces the meaning behind this interaction in his extensive work in education reform -— he focuses on the children.
KIPP is the largest network of charter schools in the U.S. The schools, located mostly in under-resourced areas, are funded publically, privately run, free and open to anyone.
Since 1994, when the first KIPP school was founded in Houston, Texas, Feinberg and his co-founder Dave Levin have pursued their goal of closing the achievement gap in elementary, middle and high school education. Today, 125 KIPP schools are in session across the U.S., about half of which are middle schools.
“There are two basic ingredients in the KIPP formula: great teaching and more of it,” Feinberg said on Tuesday.
Though Feinberg and Levin fundamentally believe that education reform comes from having a strong presence in the classroom, their model is also based on five other major principles: more time (in the school day and throughout the year), choice and commitment (giving families an opportunity to determine their own education), power to lead, high expectations and focus on results.
Feinberg closed with a call for a complete “mindshift” in American society; to combat the issues of education and reform the system for the better, we first must understand the system as it is and tackle it with a brighter future in mind.