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«Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today

Progressive Education in the 21st Century – Second Edition


Edited By Susan F. Semel, Alan R. Sadovnik and Ryan W. Coughlan

The second edition of «Schools of Tomorrow,» Schools of Today: Progressive Education in the 21 st Century documents a new collection of child-centered progressive schools founded in the first half of the twentieth century and provides histories of some contemporary examples of progressive practices. Part I discusses six progressive schools founded in the first part of the twentieth century (City and Country; Dalton; the Weekday School at Riverside Church; The Laboratory School at the Institute of Child Study; Alabama State Teachers College Laboratory High School; and Highlander), tracing them from their beginnings. Part II examines four more contemporary schools (Central Park East 1; Central Park East Secondary; Learning Community Charter School; and KIPP TEAM Academy), showing how progressive practices gained momentum from the 1960s onward. As a volume in the History of Schools and Schooling series, this book seeks to look to the past for what it can teach us today.
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Chapter 11. A Look into KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program): Culture through the Prism of Progressive Schools


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Culture through the Prism of Progressive Schools

Andrew R. Ratner and Ali Nagle

KIPP TEAM Academy is located in a quiet residential neighborhood just off Interstate 78 in Newark, New Jersey. As sometimes noted by the steady stream of visitors who come to learn more about it, the actual building, a former parochial school, is rather unimpressive for such a highly regarded place of learning. National news media and overseas educators conducting fact-finding missions to the school can easily drive by the building’s brick façade—boxy with an understated KIPP TEAM placard out front—and find themselves approaching the entrance of Newark International Airport just a few miles to the south. Bright colored KIPP slogans such as “TEAM Always Beats Individual,” university pennants, and student work bring life to the hallways and classrooms, but the overall feel of the interior is spartan and slightly undersized for its purposes. It is an orderly and humble place, neither Beverly Hills High nor the Blackboard Jungle.

The purpose of this chapter, composed by a teacher at KIPP TEAM, Ali Nagle, and a university professor of education, Andrew Ratner, who has studied and consulted with KIPP schools, is to go beyond the facade of KIPP TEAM and fully explore how it establishes its distinct school culture. Although KIPP is rarely, if ever, associated with progressive schools, we will also argue that...

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