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

Thursday, January 15, 2009

NY KIPP Teachers Ask for Union Protection

The KIPP chain gang ed model is backed by today's rich and powerful SEPs (social entrepreneurial parasites) as the final solution for urban schooling. Hundreds of millions of dollars are available to propagandize and to supplement the public expenditures on these test-cramming and behavior-mod camps that rob children of their capacity to grow and think as children do who are educated elsewhere. And as children are robbed by a bare-knuckled pedagogy sprinkled with eugenics-inspired positive psychology, so, too, are teachers robbed of any sense of professional autonomy, due process, or decision-making power.

And even though the SEPs make sure that NY KIPP teachers make $10,000 more per year than regular teachers, this incentive has not kept two KIPP schools from now asking for union protection. The teachers' reasons: stress and burnout over long hours, limited voice in school decisions, unfair evaluation systems, and unfair discipline policies. From the NY Times:

The United Federation of Teachers announced on Tuesday that it had organized teachers at two respected New York City charter schools, making inroads in a movement that has long sold itself as an alternative that is not hamstrung by union contracts and work rules.

Union officials said the teachers’ decision was an important step because the schools are part of the Knowledge Is Power Program, known as KIPP, which has 66 schools in 19 states and the District of Columbia and plays an influential role in national education debates. Advocates for charter schools — which are publicly funded but independently operated — expressed concern that unionization could undermine the schools’ effectiveness.

“A union contract is actually at odds with a charter school,” said Jeanne Allen, executive director of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington group that supports charter schools.

“As long as you have nonessential rules that have more to do with job operations than with student achievement,” she said, “you are going to have a hard time with accomplishing your mission.”

Several teachers at the two schools — KIPP Amp, a middle school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and KIPP Infinity, a middle school in Harlem — said the union organizing drive came about because they wanted a stronger voice on the job and because the demands on them were so rigorous. They also said that they wanted to insure a fair discipline and evaluation system.

KIPP’s teachers in New York generally earn at least $10,000 more a year than teachers at the city’s traditional public schools, but also typically work from 7:15 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, as well as one or two Saturdays a month. Many teachers also give students their personal phone numbers.

Those who run the schools say the extra hours and increased availability are exactly what are needed to boost student achievement — KIPP Amp and KIPP Infinity both earned A’s on their report cards and students had high scores on standardized tests. But several teachers at the two schools said some KIPP teachers were getting burned out and quitting, hurting the schools and student-teacher relations.

“It’s a matter of sustainability for teachers,” said Luisa Bonifacio, who teaches sixth-grade reading at KIPP Amp. “There’s a heavy workload, and people have to balance their lives with their work.”. . . .


  1. Those KIPP principals must have fallen asleep at the wheel and let their young, green teachers work at the school for more than two or three years. If the teachers stuck around longer than that, life and reality would set in and their increasing maturity would compel them to complain.

    This is a very entertaining turn of events.

  2. I remember a Saturday Night Live episode years ago, showing an actor playing the role of billionaire Ross Perot, who was giving people money to get down on their hands and knees and bark like a dog. Would you bark like a dog for $5000, or $50,000 or $500,000? Would you bark like a dog for sixty-five million bucks?

    Charter school entrepreneurs, Teach for America Alumni, are transforming the landscape of urban public schools, but they are NOT doing this through public dialogue or building coalitions for change through the democratic process, or by empowering parents. No, in the Anglo-capitalist tradition, they are taking the short route, via massive financial infusions given by conservative business titans.

    Here are their biggest funders, the agents of the supposed new civil right of education:

    Donald Fisher, founder of the Gap, major Republican paymaster and chairperson of the KIPP Foundation.
    The Walton Family Foundation, who have yet to learn charity should begin at home, with their own undervalued workers.
    The Eli Broad Foundation, which has invested millions towards “better governance, management, labor relations and competition.”
    The Gates Foundation, ironically advocates of competition in the public sector.

    The “Chief Architect” of KIPP in Houston, where that network has raised $65,000,000 to create forty charter schools is Leo Linbeck III, CEO of the Aquinas Corporation, and free-market idealist. He views public schools as monopolies which will change only when faced with a “mortal threat.”

    “Then along came Barack
    And the rest of his flock
    Who turned the whole nation into rubble”

    Leo Linbeck III

    Fisher and Linbeck, and the Walton Family, are committed conservatives who would oppose just about any policy that would immediately improve the lives of working class people in this country: 1. universal health care regardless of income; 2. legalization of immigrants who have gainful employment; 3. restoration of workers' constitutional right to organize through regulation in the private sector; 4. provide two free years of university education as President Clinton proposed and a Republican Congress ignored; and 5. adoption of a more progressive tax structure.

    “The Taliban Certainly Know
    That Obama would sure like to go
    So give him a push
    Off the ol' Hindu Kush
    They promise to give him some blow”

    Leo Linbeck III

    “the environmental movement is anti-human”

    Leo Linbeck III

    So why are these conservatives who oppose or ignore the interests of working people on most issues, so committed to improving the education for working-class kids through the vehicle of charter schools BUT NOT PUBLIC SCHOOLS OR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS?

    “And while it may appear that for now the forces for liberty are in retreat, I believe we will see a resurgence of true conservative values among the one group that can still learn, and is large enough to make a difference...So talk to the young. Tell them what you believe. Speak truth to power. Fight the Zeitgeist!”

    Leo Linbeck III

    The minority segment of the our country is growing, so the demographics work against the conservatives, who know we are the only rich country without national health care, that we have the lowest tax rates on the wealthy, and that we have more income inequality than any nation in the western world. Given that many minorities know economic struggle, as do some white families, the American demographics are running away of conservatives.

    Why have they chosen charter schools as the savior of public education, particularly the KIPP charters which do provide a first-rate education but only after skimming the best students from working-class neighborhoods. What message does this separating out process send to the kids themselves? After finishing a KIPP middle school, and being sponsored to attend an elite high school, what political attitudes and sense of solidarity with their home neighborhoods do they carry with them into adulthood? Will this speedy promotion into the elite create community-minded leaders or the children of Clarence Thomas?

    But when 70% of children are born out of wedlock, there is negative slack. The result is a host of social and cultural pathologies...Seems to me the only hope for breaking this cycle is to create stronger incentives for marriage. ...The folks I know who work on this issue are mainly focused on fixing urban public education, and that is done by breaking the monopoly through expanding charter schools. This new generation of schools become surrogate second-parents for their students, while trying to reset the cultural norms for the next generation.
    Leo Linbeck III

    “we urge Obama to follow through on his campaign pledge to double federal funding for public charter schools with proven results...Our students are full of hope for the future. They see in Barack Obama the embodiment of the opportunities and change they aspire to in their own lives.”
    Mike Fineberg and David Levin, founders of KIPP
    (who appeared with candidate George W. Bush at the 2000 Republican Convention)

  3. Anonymous7:49 AM

    KIPP Academies are teacher slave schools. They require teachers to work from 6:30-7:00 at night---and then have phones on till 10:00 at night for students/parent questions. They talk about the extra pay but really in the hours they work they are not getting any overtime are working so many extra hours that they are not even getting paid minimum wage. They profess their outstanding academics but I know that if state run school put in the extended school day alone they would achieve the supposed success of these bogus charter schools. They do not allow teachers planning or lunch breaks. Something needs to be done to support these "Teacher Sweat Factories" from demoralizing young hopeful teachers!!!!!!!!!!!!!