"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

KIPP: Work Hard, Be Nice--Or Get Lost!

When students of the 19th Century black industrial education schools such as Hampton and Tuskegee could not get their minds right to accept the brainwashing imposed by Samuel Chapman Armstrong and his teaching lieutenants, they were simply booted out. Only 1 in 5 students actually went on to earn a certificate that would give them the credential needed to teach the Hampton ideology of black moral inferiority and unquestioning acceptance of white rule that was used to gain from freed slaves complicity in the own continued subjugation into the next century.

KIPP, the 21st Century inheritors of the Hampton and Tuskegee ideology, would appear, too, to be booting out large numbers of students who can't cut the mustard. Similar, too, is the fact that today's white philanthropists such as Gates and Broad join former do-gooders such as Carnegie and Rockerfeller in viewing this type of repressive testing and behavioral adjustment camp as the solution to alleviating the white man's burden.

Ed Week has a piece on the new urban school panacea that sheds some light on just how these spiffy new reform schools manage to maintain those high test scores:

As the high-profile Knowledge Is Power Program network of schools continues to expand, KIPP leaders are taking a close look at student attrition amid arguments from critics that the loss of students at some of those public schools of choice is alarmingly high.

Attrition rates at a few KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay Area, in particular, have recently drawn scrutiny. Fewer than half the 5th graders who entered three new middle schools in fall 2003 are still enrolled this academic year, when they would generally be finishing 8th grade, according to a KIPP analysis. At one of the schools, in Oakland, Calif., only about a quarter of the students from that 5th grade class have remained.

National attrition data on the San Francisco-based network of 52 mostly charter middle schools are unavailable. But information the network provided on a handful of other schools, as well as a review of national enrollment data by Education Week, suggests that levels of student mobility vary widely across KIPP campuses.

In certain KIPP schools, in fact, attrition appears very low.

Still, some observers are raising concerns, especially given the accolades KIPP has attracted. For one, if most of the exiting students are low-performing, they say, the average test scores could be higher than they would be otherwise, and not accurately reflect the schools’ actual success.

“To some advocates, KIPP is the savior of public education,” said Alex Molnar, who heads the Education Policy Studies Center at Arizona State University, in Tempe. “If a large number [of students] don’t stay, how can we say this is a model for public education?” . . . .

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