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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

KIPP and KIPP Knockoffs

Think of as Gucci goes to the street fair.

In the world of false advertising, the corporate charter lobby has carved a place for itself that must be respected. Broad and Gates and the corporate media that they own gush about the testing exploits of KIPP as the model to be emulated in Arne's Rush Over the Cliff Billion Dollar Giveaway: no unions, disposable teachers, no integration, disposable students (40-60% washout rate), no special ed, no facilities, and no lip. Work Hard Enough and Be Nice Enough, become helpless and positive enough, and score high enough, and we will let you join the white folks in their fierce clawing toward that fabled middle of that economic world owned by the Few.

It is a model for American urban education that all of the Few embrace without exception or moral reservation. And, of course, it is a lie, a very basic lie because KIPP cannot be "scaled up," as the vulture philanthropists might say if they were telling the truth. Besides the 50% attrition difficulty, the shortage of instructional martyrs, and the fact that the majority of parents and students would never accept the KIPP abuse as a form of education, there is the extra money problem that now the enthusiastic Few continue to give to prop up the lie, even as the Few's tax obligations continue to receive. From the LA Times:
. . . .Local KIPP leaders are relying on philanthropy to pay for their extras and also to help front the start-up costs charter schools face. Charters are independently run public schools that are exempt from some provisions of the Education Code.

The Karsh gift comes a year after a $12-million pledge from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation.

Bruce Karsh heads Oaktree Capital Management, an international investment firm. Martha Karsh is an attorney with extensive experience in nonprofits. Their family foundation has made gifts and pledges totaling more than $50 million to support education.
There are about a hundred of these KIPP cults in operation at this time around the country. There are over 600 public schools in Chicago, alone. There are over 90,000 schools nationwide, with most of them in urban areas. Do the math. Even Bill Gates doesn't need that much of a tax break.

What the buyers of the KIPP model will get if they are suckered into this deal is a Model T sold as a Mercedes. The only thing that the KIPP boutiques and the mass-produced KIPP knockoffs will have in common is the behavioral code, the learned helplessness, and the glassy-eyed renditioning by the positive psychologists who are the trainers in the KIPP summer teaching camps. But then, that is the important part, anyway, and the point of this new era of eugenical interventions.


  1. Please cut to the chase for me. I have no axe to grind here and can find faults. I'm curious. I've read your posts, but don't know what drives them. Is it intellectual, political, rhetorical, ... differences? What specifically don't you like about KIPP?

  2. http://edrev.asu.edu/essays/v12n3index.html

  3. Anonymous8:15 PM

    Great response, Jim.

    Can't wait for the spirited debate to follow.

    Unless Mr. Heiny realizes he is already Pwn3d.