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

Monday, April 21, 2014

Former Teacher Describes KIPP's Special Ed Program as "a lawsuit waiting to happen"

The following excerpt is from another interview with a former KIPP teacher who was hired to solve the special education problem at one KIPP school.  This teacher served for two years at KIPP, and it was the day she ran into another car as she went to sleep on the way home after another 12 hour day that she finally decided to leave KIPP.  She offers many details about life at KIPP, including the cult-like quality of life there.  Here is one brief excerpt:

You had to have all the KIPP values posted.  You had to constantly remind the children of the KIPP values.  It was Orwellian type of teaching.  You had to focus on teaching almost like a cult.  It was very much brainwashing is how I could describe it.  It was like it wasn’t you.  I mean believe me, if you didn’t have those KIPP values posted in your room, if you did not go over them daily someone would know and they would remind you hey, these are the KIPP values, teach them. 
But the most breathtaking revelations from this interview came when this special education teacher with several years of experience prior to coming to KIPP talked out the illegal practices that were routinely expected of her:

INT:   You have experience in what’s required to run a special ed. program.  How would you describe the KIPP way of doing special ed?

R:  This is a question I’ve answered many times.  A lawsuit waiting to happen.

INT:  Say more.

R:  It doesn’t exist.  When I talk about it, it’s scary because having experience in special ed. for __ years before I arrived at KIPP—that’s why I was hired—was to make it to where it looked like we had a special ed. program.  Let’s say if we had a student come in how had severe behavior problems there were no counselors—that’s why I was the counselor.  Whatever need that student had in his ARD meetings I served as that person.  A tutor.  A small group instruction.  There is no small group instruction at KIPP, so basically what we would do is eliminate that modification of what they call that or accommodation and tailor it to KIPP’s program.  Therefore, if a child has a block of needs, education needs, they would not get to send the kid because their parent would say okay, well my son needs this or my daughter needs this well, it’s just not here ma’am.  That’s the answer and that is not the answer to that question.  And when you’re just sitting there doing your job and you’re like okay, this child needs so many accommodations and you’re in an ARD meeting, which is legal meeting you have to say we don’t have this.  And it’s on record and if the parent wants to challenge it they can really do so they just don’t.

INT:  Is ARD an acronym for…?

R:  Oh, I’m so sorry.  ARD is an acronym for admission, review, and dismissal.  So it’s actually like the ARD process is where they have a legal meeting for a student identified as special ed.  and it’s a yearly meeting that’s required for yearly educational needs.

INT:  If a student’s IEP didn’t fit the KIPP model then what?

R:  We tailored the IEP to meet the KIPP program, therefore we could remain in compliance.  But say the child was required 30 minutes of one-on-one instruction in math, well, we would just take that out and say we don’t offer 30 minutes of individual instruction in math so we would just say no accommodation.  We would say sit in front of the classroom something that we had that could provide some type of help to that student but it would not be what was required from the previous ARD at a different school. 

INT:  It sounds like it was to meet the needs of KIPP rather than the needs of the student.

R:  Absolutely.  And usually, in my experience, the special ed. students didn’t stay very long.  Were not successful.  I felt very bad for them.  Back to that question why did you stay, I did form a bond with some parents and some students that I felt like if I left I would leave them.  And you kind of do get that feeling like you’re helping them somehow.  It’s like if you leave well then they’re gone.  They’re going to lose them.  Which I’m sure that that’s what happened to the few that I was very close to. 

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