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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Moral Necessity and the NAACP Charter Moratorium, Part 1

Principal Jondré Pryor of KIPP South Fulton Academy (KSFA) is just one among many corporate education reform schoolers who are wringing their hands over the NAACP's 2016 decision to support a strongly-worded resolution calling for a moratorium on the spread of privately-operated charter schools (see resolution at bottom of this page). 

Rather than accepting the possibility that NAACP members have read and heard about too many child abuse cases at "no excuses" charters to remain silent any longer, Mr. Pryor claims the problem is simply a matter of NAACP delegates suffering from an overload of "misinformation.  Pryor says,
I came to understand the NAACP’s position a little better when I attended a panel on education with several of my KIPP colleagues and when I talked one-on-one with several delegates. It became clear that misinformation was the basis for their opposition. They had heard stories about a few bad charter schools, and they were using that to judge all 6,800 schools in the movement. There have been some terrible stories about charter schools, just as we’ve all read terrible stories about traditional public schools and private schools. Those are unfortunate, embarrassing, disheartening exceptions.
"Embarrassing, disheartening exceptions?"  How about Mr. Pryor's own KIPP school, where he has been principal for the past eight years?  Mr. Pryor could have mentioned in his October 9 essay published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his first year at KSFA was marred by news stories of student mistreatment and abuse, which resulted in at least seven parents yanking their children from his school:
Sunday, March 22, 2009

A south Fulton County charter school following one of the most lauded education programs nationwide is embroiled in a dispute over discipline that has led at least seven parents to yank their children out midyear.

The parents were so angry at what they saw as excessive punishment at KIPP South Fulton Academy that they complained to several agencies, including the Fulton school board and state Department of Education.

The parents said a group of children were mistreated by teachers who separated them from their peers in class and at lunch. The students, parents said, reported sitting on the floor and said one girl urinated on herself after not being allowed to use the restroom immediately.

School administrators said they erred in not calling parents as soon as their children got in trouble. First-year principal Jondré Pryor said he also should have done more to warn parents about the high expectations for conduct, as well as academics. . . . .
Some of the angry parents who pulled their children said "their children needed counseling afterward."   One male student told his mom, Ms. India Wood, that "I can’t take them yelling at me 10 hours today."  Ms. Wood withdrew her son in February 2009.

Below is a photo from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution showing KIPPsters sitting on the floor until students "earned" desks by displaying totally compliant behavior.  Embarrassing, I guess.  Or maybe criminally negligent would be a better description.

While Mr. Pryor offers up the usual short list of carefully-selected data claims related to high test scores to underpin his argument for more charter schools and to justify his condemnation of the NAACP demand for a charter moratorium, there are other KIPP data closer to home that Mr. Pryor does not mention.

For instance, KSFA performance has been moving down steadily among the state rankings of middle schools since 2007, when KSFA ranked 31st among Georgia middle schools.  In 2016 it ranks 129th.

During that past eight year span, which coincides with Mr. Pryor's tenure at KIPP,  KSFA's average standard State score has declined from 84.71 to 70.88 in 2016.

Oddly, KSFA academic performance seems to be moving in the opposite direction of its "profitability."  For a "non-profit" charter school, this KIPP seems to be doing pretty well, based on information from 2013:

I checked online to find out what parents are saying about Mr. Pryor's school, and I found this single 2016 rating here by a parent who gave KSFA "one star:"
My child comes homes crying because she feels dumb... because the teacher yells at her constantly for small things like dropping a pencil more than once in one class period. They also call kids to school to early. There is a summer school program even for kids that got good grades, its mandatory. They really only get one month of summer which really takes away from traveling plans and just family time all together. Very disappointed. I mean my child learns but i hate for her to learn in such a cruel way. NOT RECOMMENDED AT ALL.

 Perhaps the NAACP delegates should look the other way.

Part 2 will have more to say about Mr. Pryor's essay and the NAACP resolution below, which spawned his outpouring of concern:

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