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

Sunday, December 05, 2010

KIPP Segregation: A Single School Choice Without a Voice

Mike Feinberg has a reputation as an impulsive brat and bully in a china shop (even as documented by the worshipful Jay Mathews), and the Feinberg op-ed in the Houston Chronicle today shows there is no reason to doubt it.  Not only is he audaciously reckless in calling for public funding of property and buildings for all corporate charter schools in Texas, even as KIPP sits atop a pile of several hundred million dollars from the philanthrocapitalists, but he also demands that all of Texas' "parental choice" charters, the ones with black and brown and poor kids anyway, be converted to the psychologically-sterilizing, apartheid KIPPs or KIPP knock-offs such as the YES College Preps.

The other segregated charters, the lily-white-flight ones with family incomes to match their soaring test scores, will be left untouched, except of course, their building will be paid for by the state and their principals CEOs will be given unconditional authority (like the rest of the charters in Feinberg's fantasy) to hire, fire, and promote without the burden of any consultation with teachers.

And what happens to the parents and children who discover that their choice-without-a-voice school based on an abusive behavioral catechism of total compliance is not what they signed up for when the KIPP recruiters brought their canned pitch into their living rooms?  Well, in that case they don't have a choice except to return to the malignantly-neglected public schools they were trying to escape in the first place.

In Feinberg's dreamworld, charters can't do it all--there will always be the need for the marginally-funded public schools that mimic the lockdown methods of KIPP to accept the discards that could, otherwise, damage the KIPP brand with low scores or a disruptive and stubborn refusal to become miniature corporate automatons.  And if these children can't cut it there in the residual public schools?  Well, there is the other penal system, the one that provides free room and board, an orange jumpsuit, and good jobs for the smiling, postivized guards that Feinberg's human-crushing crucible will crank out.

The fact that our society, even in Texas, could be contemplating Feinberg and Levin's eugenics-inspired brand of containment, segregation, and behavioral sterilization, provides evidence that we have learned nothing from the previous century's dangerous flirtations with fascism.  Our present Gilded Age is as blind now as that one a century ago, with "progressives" like Feinberg and conservatives like Rick Perry both embracing the same "educational" strategies and tactics in an emerging version of a "war against the weak" that has the same goals as the one that swept through America a hundred years ago, the one that inspired a middle-brow madman in another country suffering the bludgeoning effects of economic meltdown and war.

To learn more about KIPP, please see Lessons One, Two and Three.   To learn more about Gates, Broad, and philanthrocapitalism, have your library order this book.

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