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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Choosing a KIPP School for the Obama Children?

Reporters and school people of DC are all aflutter at the news of Michelle Obama's school shopping rounds last week, as evidenced this morning with this NYTimes piece:
Michelle Obama toured at least two of Washington’s most prestigious private schools last week — Sidwell Friends School and Georgetown Day School — and touched off a frenzy of dreaming, gossiping and well-mannered jockeying among the Washington elite. Maret School, another exclusive academy, is also believed to be on the shortlist for the future first children, Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
I know that Georgetown Day might have the inside track, with an award-winning commitment to equity and social justice to go along with the $28,000 price tag per year for tuition. But then there is Sidwell, where Chelsea Clinton went to school--and it has black children, too--13 percent, in fact. And even though there are lots of elite families who are satisfied with these schools, I am wondering if I might add my own expertise in helping the First Family make the best choice. After all, with these private schools, who can tell if the teachers at schools like Sidwell are truly earning those big salaries they are advertising, which offer beginners the same salary that DC public school teachers end with after 30 years. And without test scores to tell us whether or not these elite teachers are earning their keep, how can we know if they are or, in fact, if the Obama children would be learning what is required to make them competitive in the global economy?

Just between you and me, President-Elect and Mrs. Obama, there are great deals in the area where you don't have to pay $56,000 a year. Have you heard of KIPP, you know, the charter thing that I heard you mention a few times during the campaign. Well, these KIPP schools are great, even though I have heard that Malia and Sasha won't be able to be on a first name basis with their teachers like they would be at Georgetown Day. They're kind of strict at KIPP, but in a real positive way, you understand. The children love it. And since Malia and Sasha already are being nice and working hard, they should be just fine. I don't know about all those Camp David weekends, however--there is a regular Saturday schedule at KIPP, and parents must be available.

Good teachers, you bet, many, many English majors from Ivy League schools who really want to make a difference while they decide how they are going to do that in their real lives. And test scores, wow! Did I tell you about the test scores?


  1. Mr Horn: Spot on. I can hear the responses now..."Ahhhhhh....", "Ummmmmmmm...."

  2. Anonymous6:21 PM

    Great post, Jim.

    I come to this site for sanity----So many teachers at my school are clueless about the Big Picture regarding Public Education & the threats to it.

    When I come here, I realize that I am not alone.

    But man, sadly, there are many, many teachers (especially the newer/younger ones) who are in the dark, either intentionally, or due to a lack of desire to educate THEMSELVES!

    Some teachers at my school think of me as "negative", or just a "complainer", when I point out something troubling, or contradictory, about test-driven curriculum, but hardly any of these folks even know who Margaret Spellings is!

    And these are TEACHERS!

    Maybe I should say, "Teachers".

    ironic, isn't it?