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

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Hampton: KIPP :: White Female Missionaries: __________ ______ ____________

Following the Civil War, white philanthropists and politicians from the North like Rockefeller, Eastman, and Carnegie were generous in their support for the industrial education model that developed at Hampton and Tuskegee to indoctrinate future black teachers in the value of hoeing, ditching, grubbing, ironing, plowing, cooking, and all the other “labors of dignity” that white America had waiting for a population recently freed to become “educated” into their continuing subjugation by white capitalists.  These black teachers who had been schooled, then, in becoming complicit in their own subordination, would fan out across the South to “educate” an unsuspecting population of former slaves who identified education with the freedom struggle.  

This permanent stain on our education policy past has been largely forgotten (see James Anderson’s book for an unforgettable re-telling), which makes it easier, of course, to repeat the past without anyone being the wiser.

Today’s version of economic and moral programming of the children of the black and brown poor can be found in the KIPPs and the KIPP wannabes, and they, too, are mightily supported and funded by cash from today’s gilded oligarchs, Gates, the Waltons, and Broad, just to name a few.  Today’s economic catechism for the future of servants of capital is grounded in preparing future workers to compete for attention in the global oligarchy rather than the more provincial ones of the late 19th Century, and the moral inferiority that was placed on students then has been replaced by a new branding of cultural deficiency that must be treated with the positive psychology ministrations of Dr. Seligman, along with regular doses of harsh punishment for the slightest infraction of rules in these total compliance sects.

And just as the Hampton was staffed primarily by white female missionary types from the North, today’s educational solution to “the Negro problem” cycles through an endless supply of white female Ivy League grads wanting to do good for others and for their own future prospects at getting in at one of the best professional schools.  After all, anyone who can survive teaching in a KIPP hellhole for two years deserves a chance to occupy a cell of the hive in one of the Fortune 500s.

And so a new review of the research on today’s educational missionary movement, Teach for America, is just out by the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.  It is a policy brief (pdf here) of just 17 pages, but it offers a good summary of the available research.  Here are the recommendations based a reading of the research:

It is therefore recommended that policymakers and districts:
  • ·    Support TFA staffing only when the alternative hiring pool consists of uncertified and emergency teachers or substitutes.
  • ·    Consider the significant recurring costs of TFA, estimated at over $70,000 per recruit, and press for a five-year commitment to improve achievement and reduce re-staffing.
  • ·    Invest strategically in evidence-based educational reform options that build long-term capacity in schools. 

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