Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What's so "special" about KIPP?

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post - Trinity President Patricia McGuire, left, and communications student Yasmeen Newman, 20. Newman attended the KIPP D.C. Key middle school and then the private McLean School in Potomac.

Valerie Strauss at the Answer Sheet, describes the special status KIPP charters have with several elite colleges and universities who have recently signed "pledges" to track and recruit KIPP grads.
According to the story, 20 colleges and universities, including Georgetown, Brown and Duke universities, have signed pledges to work with KIPP to recruit some of the charter network’s students, 95 percent of whom are black and Latino. KIPP’s Web site says KIPP now has 125 schools in 20 states and Washington D.C., with a total of more than 39,000 students, with more than 85 percent of them from low-income families.
 Wow! That is special, at least for those students KIPP usually doesn't enroll, like those with disabilities or special-needs, English-language learners and for those whose test scores make them unlikely survive KIPP's high attrition rate. KIPP has forged a "national brand", writes WaPo ed writer, Nick Anderson,  by offering longer school days and years and a credo advocates sum up as “work hard, be nice.” The network says it takes “no shortcuts” in pursuing academic goals and makes “no excuses” for failure. They also receive hundred of millions of dollars in private funding.

I wish every high school would at least make the effort or have the resources to connect its graduating students with some type of post-secondary ed opportunities. I also wish most large urban high schools had manageable student/counselor rations, ie. below 1:400, so that inner-city students could  learn about possibilities beyond high school or even how and when to apply and connect with funding and decent loan opportunities.  More importantly, I wish that the cost of a university education was even close to being affordable for most working class and middle-class families.

But obviously, such a wish list for public education is of no concern to KIPP. After all, writes Strauss,
Over at Brown University, according to this story in the Providence Journal, the KIPP scholarships were endowed with $2.5 million from Martha and Bruce Karsh, the parents of a Brown student. Incidentally, Martha Karsh is founder of the Karsh Family Foundation and happens to be on the board of directors of KIPP... KIPP’s Board of Directors includes corporate executives, such as Philippe Dauman, president and CEO of Viacom, Inc; Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix, Inc.; and Mark Nunnelly, Bain Capital’s managing director. Meanwhile, KIPP L.A.’s Board of Directors includes Marc Castellani, executive director of JP Morgan Private Bank, and KIPP D.C.’s Board of Directors includes Don Graham, CEO of The Washington Post Company. 
Calling KIPP charters, "public schools" is at best, a stretch. More like an absurdity.

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