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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Jacksonville Principal Takes KIPP's Canned Lies Door to Door

The corporate media of Jacksonville is doing its part in perpetuating the KIPP sales pitch aimed at filling KIPP desks this summer at the renovated dog kennel that will serve as KIPP, Inc.'s Store #83. In just a few months now, the summer KIPP-notization will begin, the three-week behavioral breakdown session where students receive alternating shocks of learned helplessness and learned optimism on their way to earning their "Work Hard, Be Nice" tee-shirts and full-fledged acceptance into the total compliance cult of KIPP. By the time school is ready to start then at the end of summer, Jacksonville's newly KIPPnotized pod of segregated poor children will be ready for the ongoing regimen of psychological neutering and relentless test prep that has made KIPP #1 on the corporate foundation list for tax-credited donations for the containment, segregation, and subjugation of the urban poor.

The door to door proselytizing among Jacksonville's poorest neighborhoods is already underway, and KIPP's canned sales pitch remains true to form in that it is heavily laced with the kind of lies and deception that desperate parents of children attending malignantly neglected schools are eager to hear.

To get the word out, Hawke has become a one-man sales force, holding informational sessions at libraries, speaking at a church on Sunday and going door-to-door in some of the city’s more impoverished neighborhoods.

'Maybe she’ll be happier’

At the 19th Street home, Hawke chatted with Colonel about the program, steering her to a getting-acquainted session tonight at the East Jacksonville Neighborhood Resource Center.

Colonel promised to pass the information on to her sister, the mother of the children at the house.

“I want them to have a better education,” Colonel said.

Of her niece, she noted: “She’s not happy at the schools she’s at, and maybe she’ll be happier at his school. She’s a very smart young lady, and she needs a good education.”

Including Colonel, Hawke and a community organizer from the Eastside Neighborhood Association knocked on about 14 doors that day.

Of the five parents and guardians with fourth-graders Hawke spoke with Wednesday, only one said she wasn’t interested in the KIPP school because she was happy with her daughter’s education.

Hawke said going door-to-door is important because it lets people know the school is opening that gives them a shot at getting their kids enrolled.

“A lot of our schools are built on strong relationships between parents, teachers and students,” Hawke said. “So this is just the first step in building that relationship.”

A better chance to advance

Six more potential parents attended the first informational session a week ago at Westbrook Branch Library on Commonwealth Avenue.

In an hour-long presentation, Hawke offered the KIPP basics: longer school days, Saturday school twice a month, strict discipline, a college focus and constant parent involvement.

Hawke told the crowd that about 80 percent of kids from Northwest Jacksonville don’t go to college, but KIPP sends 85 percent of its students nationally to college.

He asked: “If you knew you could choose for your child to have either a 20 percent chance to go to college or an 85 percent chance of going to college, which one would you pick?”

Tom Majdanics, executive director of the new school, later said the number of students attending college in Northwest Jacksonville was a rough estimate based on state and federal data.

If this reporter had been doing more than a PR piece for KIPP, he might have have found out that this is simply a lie. There is no "state or federal data" showing any such thing, just like there is no data showing that that there is an "85 percent chance" of KIPPsters going to college. From a post October 9, 2009:

Two days ago Caroline Grannam took to task NBC for some inflated numbers they used regarding how many former KIPPsters are in college. Rather than going to the other end of the horse where NBC got their numbers, Grannan went to the horse's mouth, KIPP's home office. Instead of 12,800 students in college, there were last summer 447:

Actually, KIPP runs almost all middle schools and has only been running a few long enough to have their graduates finish high school and go to college. I pinned them down on the number after Newsweek wrote in July 2008 that 12,800 KIPP graduates had gone on to college.

The actual number of KIPP alumni who had started college, KIPP spokesman Steve Mancini said at that time, was 447. Again, that's the number of KIPP graduates who had started college by 2008. (KIPP claims to track them carefully even though of course they're long gone from KIPP by that time.)
I went to the July 21, 2008 Newsweek, and sure enough, there was Alter's shiny pate beside his cheerleading article full of misinformation about KIPP. Here's the clip:
The irony is, we know what works to close the achievement gap. At the 60 KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools, more than 80 percent of 16,000 randomly selected low-income students go to college, four times the national average for poor kids. While KIPP isn't fully replicable (not enough effective teachers to go around), every low-income school should be measured by how close it gets to that model, where kids go to school from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and part of the summer, and teachers are held strictly accountable for showing student improvement.
The reason that KIPP "isn't fully replicable," Jonathan, is not because there are not enough good teachers but, rather, there are not enough good teachers who can give up their lives to the total compliance of KIPP's missionary sect. KIPP could not, in fact, operate without the constant infusion of two-year Ivy League temps from Teach for America, untrained neophytes who know less about teaching than they do about the psychological manipulations of Dr. Martin Seligman. This is from a 2008 SRI International study on the five KIPP schools in the Bay Area:

Since 2003-04, the five Bay Area KIPP school leaders have hired a total of 121 teachers. Of these, 43 remained in the classroom at the start of the 2007-08 school year. Among teachers who left the classroom, at four of the schools they spent a median of 1 year in the classroom before leaving; at one school, the typical teacher spent 2 years in the classroom before leaving (32).

SRI researchers found teachers committed but clearly doubtful of their capacity to continue under the stress of 65 hours of school-related work per week (includes 2 hours per night for telephone homework assistance). One veteran teacher told researchers: “The consequence is I can’t do this job very much longer. It is too much. I don’t see any solution with our structure and our nonnegotiables. No one has really presented any way to solve that problem” (35).

And so TFA continues to spend more each year on recruiting new replacement neophytes than it does on training them to teach in KIPP's psychological sterilization camps.

NBC's recent coverage of KIPP had another lie from the same Jon Alter paragraph cited above. Alter puts the percentage of poor kids entering college at 20 percent, whereas the percentage of KIPP kids going to college he puts at 80 percent. This 20 percent figure was parroted in the NBC report. Here is some context for these numbers, which has everything to do with washouts, pushouts, dropouts, and lies outright .
In the SRI study of five KIPP schools in the Bay Area, researchers found that 60 percent of 5th grade students in five Oakland KIPP schools who began KIPP in 5th grade did not finish 8th grade:

Together, the four schools began with a combined total of 312 fifth graders in 2003-04, and ended with 173 eighth graders in 2006-07 (see Exhibit 2-3). The number of eighth graders includes new students who entered KIPP after fifth grade (12).

If, then, the 40 percent of children who survive KIPP from grade 5 through 8 all finish high school, then 30-35 percent of children who began KIPP in fifth grade will eventually go on to college. That would still be an impressive percentage if we were to accept Alter’s claim that, nationally, only 20 percent of poor kids go to college. According to a 2008 report from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, however, the percentage of “poor kids” attending college after high school is, in fact, 52 percent, rather than 20 percent as Alter claims:

In terms of family income, 91% of high school students from families in the highest income group (above $100,000) enroll in college. The enrollment rate for student from middle-income families (from $50,001 to $100,000) is 78% and for those in the lowest income group ($20,000 and below) the rate is 52% (p. 7).

But back to the Florida Times-Union PR piece for KIPP Jacksonville:

But it sounded great to Gwendolyn Smith, whose sons may be eligible. One is a fourth-grader who is two grades behind; the other is a struggling fifth-grader who may be held back.

“Will your school accept students with academic learning problems?” Smith asked Hawke.

“We’re committed to serving the students that we have the best we can,” he said.

“Those kids will be integrated together to learn, and they’ll have the same expectations?”

“Yes,” Hawke said. “We use what’s called the 'inclusion’ model.”

That was enough of an assurance for Smith, who didn’t waste any time. She filled out applications for both sons.

More disinformation and outright lies. To say honestly that KIPP operates on an inclusion model would mean jettisoning the pedagogical meaning of what inclusion classrooms demand. The Florida Inclusion Network considers an effective inclusion school to be one in which "general and special education teachers teach as teams in classroom," and if Mr. Hawke or the reporter who wrote this piece of puff can find any KIPP school in the U. S. where this model is being used, I will give a generous donation the KIPP cause and eat a whole week's worth of the Florida Times-Union. The fact is that the TFA Ivy Leaguers that KIPP normally hires, uses, and discards do not learn inclusion methods during their miracle summer of pedagogical training. This is simply more lies told to desperate parents willing to, once again, suspend their disbelief.

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