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Monday, August 27, 2012

Defending KIPP is indefensible, unless you ignore the evidence.

From School Matters, by Jim Horne, note this an abridged version, to see the complete article, click on this blog's title or scroll down and paste the URL into your browser.

Problems with KIPP's evidence that they out perform neighborhood schools:

• KIPP results are powerfully impacted by selection, even when lotteries are involved because parents self-select by entering the lotteries. This dynamic is absent in public schools; thus, comparisons are distortions.

• KIPP does reap benefits of attrition. Students and their parents must sign highly restrictive agreements, and once those agreements are broken, KIPP can send a child packing. Public school cannot (and should not) have this option.

• KIPP, and many charter movements across the U.S., are segregating schools by race and class. KIPP schools are isolating children by race and class in ways that do not address how public schools are in need of reform (public schools are too often highly segregated also due to the community-based inequity that public schools reflect and perpetuate).

• KIPP schools work in conjunction with TFA and other alternatives to staffing that also perpetuate the ways in which public schools need reform—assigning poor children and children of color inexperienced and un-/under-certified teachers. (See my challenge above for more on this indefensible process.)

• KIPP schools, and many charters, underserve bi/multi-lingual learners (commonly called "English language learners") and special needs students—populations that tend to negatively impact test scores and overburden schools in terms of funding and staffing.

• KIPP, and other "miracle" charter schools, often have funding advantages, and combined with all of the above, are thus not scalable—making KIPP advocacy a distraction in the public school reform argument.

All of these evidence-based concerns are well documented and thus show that making comparisons between KIPP outcomes and public school outcomes is an agenda-driven campaign of misinformation that benefits primarily KIPP advocates.

Finally, however, these are not my primary reasons for rejecting KIPP, and I regret that the main reason KIPP defense is indefensible remains mostly unspoken.

KIPP's "no excuses" ideology is racist and classist.

KIPP is primarily a mechanism for isolating "other people's children" and "fixing" them, creating a compliant class of children unlike the middle-class and affluent children who have experienced and certified teachers and rich academic programs while sitting in low student/teacher ratio classrooms.

KIPP's primary focus on authoritarian discipline creates a police state in schools; KIPP's test-prep focus reduces the learning opportunities for some children.

So I stand with Ravitch in my challenge and hers: I reiterate, If KIPP is so wonderful, when will we see schools treating middle-class and affluent children like KIPP treats their students?

Defending KIPP is indefensible, unless you ignore the evidence.

[1] Search "KIPP" here on Schools Matter for a powerful collection of commentaries and evidence by Jim Horn addressing KIPP.

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