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

Friday, March 12, 2010

KC and the KIPPnotizer Bandwagon

The day after Broad Academy alum, Supt. John Covington, began his public crowing about shuttering half of Kansas City's schools, the local media is already writing glowing reviews for KIPP and the KIPP knock-off charters, which are seen as the final solution for children incarcerated by poverty in the inner cities:
"We have a longer school day," said KIPP school leader John Richard. "Our teachers are available until nine p.m. for homework. We have Saturday school and mandatory summer school." . . . . Richard says that ever since the district first announced its massive resizing plan, interest in his school is on the rise.

"We expect to have a waiting list next year, which will be the first time we've had a waiting list," said Richard. "Which is a great problem to have."
For oligarchs like Eli Broad, Bill Gates and the Waltons, KIPP offers several advantages to the public schools:
  1. KIPP's total compliance pedagogy offers the advantage of segregated testing camps based on total behavioral containment and psychological sterilization of minorities (without public oversight),
  2. KIPP's management offers a corporate structure that leaves employees without job security, due process, or the kind of health and retirement benefits that have been one of the drawing cards for underpaid teachers for generations,
  3. and in terms of product accountability, KIPP generates the required bottom line for the survivors of its regimen, higher test scores.
High test scores, then, serve to assuage any potential guilt for the Arne Duncans of the world, those liberal closet racists who want to achieve a colorblind society by forcing impoverished segregated black children to act like white children out in the leafy suburbs--if those white children were being fed a diet of positive psychology and learned helplessness.

In short, KIPP is the solution to the scourge of multiculturalism and the browning of America, and KIPP's nano-cultural and anti-democratic ethos is the best hope, indeed, for making every color in American society recede into the background except white. Voila--colorblindness!

With the numerical browning of America predicted within the next generation, the mission to psychologically bleach urban America has turned into a crusade that is no less intense than the one that galvanized progressives and conservatives, alike, in America at the beginning of the 20th Century around the promise of eugenics as the way to rid society of defectives that threatened the purity of the race and the economic well-being of the corporations.

There is recently posted a new unpublished and non-reviewed report, "Who Benefits From KIPP,” by some heavy-hitters who were paid to do some research on test scores at the KIPP school in Lynn, MA. Sample size 401. Guess what: researchers found that KIPP had higher test scores than the public schools. Could anyone predict otherwise when KIPP spends almost 70 percent more time in school than their public counterparts? With 7:30 to 5 pm M-F, Saturday school twice a month, and then 3 weeks each summer dedicated to KIPPnotizing, a formal process in which each new grade is formally inducted, again, into the total compliance demands for their next grade level? Teachers on call until 9 pm for homework help? Philanthro-capitalist support in hundreds of millions? Would anyone expect lower test scores? Really?

And what has corporate stooges like Jay Mathews all aflutter about this report is that it compares MCAS scores of KIPP lottery winners to KIPP lottery losers, as if that ruse could neutralize the problem of selection bias. Please! Does anyone believe that lottery losers are going to bring the same enthusiasm to a school that is not their first choice? Are lottery losers supposed to thrive in schools with teachers and other students who have been labeled as failures by years of NCLB testing? Are parents going to be satisfied, even though losing the lottery most likely saved their child from real psychological damage.

I will leave the review of the report to the stats guys, but I would like make a couple of observations about this study, which did not include, by the way, some of the students who did not pass each year. With regards to student-teacher ratio, the report notes that “the KIPP Lynn and LPS student-teacher ratios are similar, at around 14” (p. 2). Now I know that the economists conducting this research wouldn’t know a student-teacher ratio if it smacked them in the face, but Tom Kane, who is ostensibly one of the Report’s authors, should know that a 14:1 ratio at KIPP does not mean the same as a 14:1 classroom ratio at a public school. As the U. S. Department of Education notes,
Student/teacher ratios do not provide a direct measure of class size. The ratio is determined by dividing the total number of full-time-equivalent teachers into the total student enrollment. These teachers include classroom teachers; prekindergarten teachers in some elementary schools; art, music, and physical education teachers; and teachers who do not teach regular classes every period of the day.
And since KIPPsters don’t waste all that good test prep time with those meaningless specials like art, P.E. or music, their class sizes, then, are substantially lower than Lynn Public Schools (LPS). And class size does make a difference.

The new KIPP report notes, too, that “KIPP Lynn teachers are much younger than those in the rest of LPS: 88 percent are 40 or under, compared to 29 percent in LPS. Perhaps reflecting their age, KIPP teachers are far less likely to be licensed in their teaching assignment (26 percent, compared to 98 percent in LPS)” (p. 3).

Here I cannot tell if the researchers are simply being disingenuous or intentionally stupid. KIPP, they must know, looks for sect leaders rather than educators, ones who will advance the total compliance regime preferred by the privileged “no excusers,” all the while dependably implanting the Seligman smile chip into the heads of all these children whose parents have chosen this fate for them out of desperation and, sometimes, ignorance. White female indoctrinators, you bet. Educators, not so much.

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