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

Monday, July 04, 2011

Getting a Rise from the Risible: Tilson and Buck Tag Team

Whitney Tilson was so exorcised yesterday by the post I did on David Brooks's lies about KIPP that he has made it the centerpiece of his daily email round-up of all the news that he deems of use to the corporate crusade to segregate and psychologically sterilize brown and black poor kids in corporate welfare charter schools.

Here's Mr. Tilson in his email to fellow hedge fund managers who specialize in tax-sheltered corporate giving to other corporations that are running the corporate charter schools and collecting the tax dollars to run them (what a deal):
. . . . I’ll be curious to see how Ravitch responds to David Brooks critique of her.  So far, her only response that I’m aware of is to tweet a link to Jim Horn’s blog post (http://twitter.com/#!/DianeRavitch/status/87517206040158210) entitled Lies, Damn Lies, and David Brooks, which wins the award for Most Idiotic and Demonstrably False Post of the Year (no wonder Ravitch likes it so much!).  In it, Horn questions whether KIPP students get exposure to:

“chess programs, Shakepeare [note that Horn can’t even spell it correctly], philosophy, or physics in a KIPP school.  Not even chief hedge fund KIPPster propagandist, Whitney Tilson, would make up such an obvious lie.  The amount of argument, on anything, in a KIPP school or one of KIPP's knock-offs, is between negligible and none, and if Shakespeare or philosophy is ever mentioned, it is most likely on one of the thousands of worksheets these children fill out every year.  Has KIPP ever fielded a chess team or dance team?  Not even a mention on any of KIPP's websites, much less in a news article.”

3) Fortunately, I don’t have to rebut this delusional lunacy (hey Jim, why don’t you actually VISIT a KIPP school before writing about them???), as Stuart Buck, on his blog, The Buck Stops Here, does it for me, quickly finding eight separate KIPP web sites that talk about how students are exposed to a rich curriculum, including, chess.  Here are the first three examples Buck cites:

Not a mention of chess or dance on any of KIPP's websites? How about the following:

1. KIPP's mainpage:

After a long day of hard work, KIPPsters enjoy the chance to express themselves in creative ways. Music, art, sports and dance are just a few examples of the programs available in KIPP schools across the country. Many KIPP schools have activities such as basketball, track, lacrosse, step teams and chess clubs. These extracurricular opportunities work together with our academic programs to create a well-rounded experience for our students.

A look inside the music program at KIPP Academy in New York City demonstrates the benefits of KIPP's strong arts curriculum. KIPP Academy students play everything from classical pieces to modern R&B and pop music, and the orchestra has performed across the nation. In New Orleans, KIPP McDonogh 15 has an incredible jazz band, while in Los Angeles KIPP Academy of Opportunity has an extraordinary, high-energy drum line. These KIPP schools exemplify KIPP's commitment that students will work hard while still having fun.

2. From KIPP Delta's website:

On April 17th, engineering students competed in an electric car race in Pensacola, Florida and won. There were many different participants in high school and college level.  Also on April 17th, a group of students competed in the state chess tournament. 

3. Part of a list of activities on the KIPP TEAM (New Jersey) website:

Chess Club
Film Club
Yoga Club
Fight Club
An impressive list of five schools out of 100 with at least an example of extracurriculars for KIPPsters "after a long day of hard work," as the KIPP Home Office likes to put it.

Still nothing curricular has turned up on Shakespeare, physics, philosophy, or argument, even with the help of crackerjack grad student, Stuart Buck, who is working on a doctorate with Jay Greene and the scholars of the Walmart-funded Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.

Buck, too, is a published author, with a book (Acting White: The Ironic Legacy of Desegregation) that, no doubt, is one of the common readers for the hedge funders' corporate education book club.

Publisher's Weekly entire review (my bolds):
Buck, Arkansas University doctoral fellow in education reform, enters the black-white achievement gap debate with a review of anti-academic attitudes among some black students, who dub school achievement as “acting white”; he finds its roots in “what was lost when schools were desegregated.” Buck fears misinterpretation (“no one should read this section as suggesting that we should go back to segregated schools”) as he delineates the costs of losing the schools as community centers, the concomitant loss of black teachers and principals as “academic role models,” and the detachment of black parents and students. “Desegregation,” he argues, then “set the stage for the 'acting white' criticism to emerge in the school setting,” as black students met hostile receptions from white students and teachers. Buck's proposed solutions are implausible—and almost risible: one, since “humans are tribal,” some students should be in “an all-black environment that includes black teachers and principals,” the other to replace individual grades with “regular interschool competitions, supplemented by small rewards for winners on a group basis.” Overstuffed with evidence showing he “examined literally thousands of sources over the past several years,” the result is a repetitive mélange of education philosophy and anecdotal history. (June)
So Whitney, you are half-way there, pal, in terms of the future Dr. Buck's dream of containing the "tribal" urges within segregated camps where the black and brown can be culturally neutered and behaviorally brainwashed with the "small rewards" from KIPP paychecks. If you guys can just figure out how to replace the white missionary temps from TFA with black ones, you will, indeed, have the final solution.

Finally, if I had a chance, I would tell Mr. Tilson the same thing I told a KIPP cultist who showed up at my presentation at AERA, asking if I had ever been to a KIPP school:  Sir, it did not take a visit to the the WW II concentration camps to understand what was going on there.  But even so, most people chose to look the other way.

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