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

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Undoing the Military-Corporate Complex

Even as the malicious pretenders of climate change denial are installed by the Trumpists throughout Washington to keep the lid on any effort to halt the coming environmental catastrophe imposed by lethal energy extraction and use, the power brokers who have chosen certain death for their and our descendants, as a residual cost of doing business as usual, are not going down without a well-funded fight to maintain control to the bitter and certain end. 

The Pentagon, which cannot afford the homicidal luxuries that the Koch Brothers and Exxon-Mobil's deadly pretenses provide to the economically privileged and morally blind citizenry, is moving forward with plans to protect American economic and military assets as long as possible.  After all, that is the job of the military.

Along with the billionaire opportunists of Silicon Valley, who are looking for ways to maintain their empires even if life as we know it cannot be sustained, the U. S. Armed Forces are working overtime to engineer and evolve human systems, organizational systems, education systems, and military systems that can rise above the increasingly lethal challenges that accompany the inevitable social, economic, cultural, and biological degradations and breakdowns in the making around the globe.  

If the Pentagon has its way, the U. S. will be able to kick anybody's ass to the very end of human time:
HRED's [Human Research and Engineering's] scientific research in Soldier performance is directed toward the development of human engineering as well as cognitive and sensory neuroscience technologies and design principles that protect and extend the Soldier's physical, perceptual, cognitive, and psychological performance under hostile and highly stressed conditions. Particular emphasis is on the simultaneous consideration of Soldier physical, cognitive, and social interactions. Results of this research serve to enable the individual Soldier, crew, and battle staff to comprehend and manage vast quantities of information expected to flow across the networked military environment employed in full-spectrum operations. Basic and applied research supports effective integration of the Soldier operator, maintainer, and trainer in evolving Soldier-worn, communication, weapon, and vehicle equipment; and crew station, human and human-system teams, and unit and organizational designs.
Substitute the word "Soldier" with "Student" or "Worker" and you begin to get the picture.

As corporations are charged with increasing wealth for stockholders, the armed forces are charged with protecting stockholders' asses, assets, and interests.  Both parties, then, are engaged in an entirely amoral and unacknowledged suicide pact that leaves either, alone, blameless, even as the ship of state lists dangerously and the band plays on as it slides across the groaning deck.  

The moral responsibility, then, has been placed on the rest of us, to keep this Titantic from sinking.  But how?  What is to be done?

Most certainly, we must get rid of the ship owners, their captain, and his officers who deny that anything is wrong and have issued orders that everyone should pretend that the ship did not run aground and cause a huge gash in its hull, where water is now pouring in filling up the ship. All these death worshippers must be relieved of their duties and put in the brig if they don't go voluntarily. 

The crew must be redirected to determining the full extent of the damage and committing all resources to sealing off the damaged compartments and getting the pumps running.  All passengers--not just those in 1st Class, must be fully educated as to the extent of the problem, and they must be called upon, each and every one, to help in righting the ship. 

Those engineers and other crew members who continue to commit resources in a hopeless effort to make life on a temporary raft comfortable for a few privileged passengers must be fired immediately and put in restraints if they refuse to commit to saving the ship.

Do we know if this planetary ship can be saved?  No, we do not but, then, we can only choose to act as if it can be saved.  For if it is found that after trying, it cannot, then we and most of the planet's life forms will surely be as dead as if we had done nothing, but we will not have died without the moral and intellectual certainty that we humans did what we could for ourselves and all our fellow passengers, human and otherwise.  Choosing that legacy would be our dying species' most noble act thus far.

Scott Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, was later asked what he would have done if he had a half-hour's worth of breathable air remaining and the engine on the lunar lander would not start to return him to the orbiting command module. He responded matter-of-factly that he would have used that half hour of air to get the engine started.  

Boys and girls around the world, it is time to start our engines. Only our unshakable commitment and courageous acts can make this coming year a happy one.


Friday, December 30, 2016

Houston's Systematic Mistreatment of Special Needs Children

The Houston Independent School District has an established history of miseducative corruption, which goes back to the glory days of Rod Paige, who made a national reputation with made up graduation and dropout numbers for Houston high schools.  His compelling lies earned him a spot as Secretary of Education for Geo. W. Bush, and since leaving ED to make room for the bovine Margaret Spellings, Paige has been on the prime rib speaking circuit of corporate ed reform.

In 2009, Houston elites brought in corporate ed reformers' poster boy, Supt. Terry Grier, to initiate as many half-baked ideas, child-unfriendly programs, and lucrative deals as possible.  Grier was such a disruption that HISD won Eli Broad's highest honor in 2013.

As a result of some good reporting by the Houston Chronicle, we now find that many of the efficiencies that have been achieved by Grier and his corporate team have resulted from the systematic mistreatment of special needs children. 

Chart below and clip from the most recent article in the Houston Chronicle series:

. . . . Federal officials have approved RTI, with one caveat: Schools cannot require teachers to try RTI before requesting a kid be evaluated for special ed.

That is exactly what has happened in HISD, according to numerous current and former staffers.

"RTI was a huge roadblock," said Renee Tappe, who retired in 2015 after 35 years in special education at HISD. "Every now and again, it would help a kid a little bit, but when you look at the number of kids denied, it's not even close to being worth it."

When delay is no longer possible, several HISD staffers said they have been encouraged to suspend or expel students who act out instead of evaluating them for special ed. A 2015 TEA probe confirmed HISD has done that multiple times, including by charging kids with truancy, according to records obtained by the Chronicle.

The district also has started increasingly serving students with dyslexia in Section 504, a less robust and less accountable program than special ed.

Veteran employees also pointed to the budget cuts as a way that HISD has intentionally lowered special education rates. Officials have cut nearly 600 special ed positions over the past decade, a 40 percent drop that has been even sharper than the dip in students, statistics show. . . .

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Take My Course

I'll be teaching a course at Cambridge College in the Spring that is open to non-matriculated students, as well as students currently enrolled in CC programs.  Parents, students, policymakers, and teachers are welcome.

The course, Reconceptualization of Schools . . ., will be offered on Saturdays from 9-5 on these dates: February 4, March 4, March 18, April 1, and April 15. 

Registration form may be downloaded here.

Here are the readings that we will be using during the class discussion:

The mismeasure of education. 
Author(s): Horn and Wilburn
Copyright: 2013    
Publisher: Information Age

What every principal needs to know to create equitable and excellent schools.
Author(s): Theoharis and Brooks
Copyright: 2012    
Publisher: Teachers College Press

Work hard, be hard: Journeys through "No Excuses" teaching. 
Author(s): Horn
Copyright: 2016    
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Come Teach with Me and Be My Clone

With apologies to Christopher Marlowe

Come teach with me and be my Clone
And we will make Common Core our own.
Let corporate precepts rule our field,
And make sure all stubborn students yield.

There will we stand with methods right
Pushing Global Economy skills airtight,
Eschew those fiction texts with calls
Of melodious birds singing madrigals.

Now will I give thee Danielson rubrics
And a thousand checkmarks therapeutic.
The warning of Needs Improvement
Squashes well any labor movement.

 The plan must follow the Bill Gates dollar
Which teachers all wear as pretty dog collar,
Forswear student self-selected reading
And follow the rules of Coleman inbreeding.
The plan to follow every day
In the Ed Industrial rigorous squeeze play
And for these plans to make your own,
Come teach with me and be my Clone.

Thirty pieces of silver fixes thy meat
As precious as the gods do eat,
Shall on an ivory table be
Prepared each day for thee and me.

The corporate swains shall dance and sing
For thy compliance each school morning:
As these delights in thy mind have shone,
Then teach with me and be my Clone.

Trump's New York Campaign Co-Chair

Paladino is such a perfect psychopathic match for the Trumpster.  From HuffPo:

The New York co-chair of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign made racist and sexist comments about first lady Michelle Obama in a recent interview, suggesting that she was really a man and should live in Africa.

In an interview with ArtVoice published Friday, Carl Paladino said that in 2017 the thing he would most like to see go away was Michelle Obama.

“I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla,” he said.

Asked what he would like to see happen in 2017, Paladino wished death on President Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers.

“Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford [sic]. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret [sic], who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady [sic] cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her,” Paladino said. . . .
Meanwhile, Paladino has refused to step down from his position on the Buffalo School Board, where he intends to push Trump's privatization agenda.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bill Nye, The Science Guy shouldn't believe everything he reads about the Common Core.

Stephen Krashen

On Big Think, Bill Nye (The Science Guy) advises us to "use your critical thinking skills. Evaluate evidence. Don't believe everything you read or see" (December 20, 2016). Mr. Nye is a good example of doing exactly that, reading and evaluating evidence carefully from all sides of an issue.  Except in one major case: The Common Core.

Mr. Nye is an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Core standards, because, he says, there are some basic principles everybody needs to know. On Big Think in September, 2014, he says that everybody needs to learn "a little bit of physics, chemistry, mathematics and you got to learn some evolution. You've got to learn some biology ... Everybody's got to learn the alphabet. Everybody's got to learn to read. The U.S. Constitution is written in English so everybody's got to learn to read English." (http://bigthink.com/videos/bill-nye-is-the-core-curriculum-the-antidote-for-creationism).

I completely agree and I think that nearly all educators and parents agree.  Mr. Nye says that the opposition to the common core stems from teachers not wanting to teach subjects they are not very interested in,  and parents' concerns that the content of the core might conflict with their beliefs. 

But the oppoition to the Common Core among professional educators is different:  It is because the standards that make up the official Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are developmentally inappropriate, were created without sufficient consultation with teachers and research on learning, and their validity has never even been investigated.  

In addition, the CCSS imposes a staggering amount of testing. despite research showing that increasing testing does not increase achievement.

Finally, CCSS does not address the real problem in American education.  Critics complain about our unspectacular scores on international tests, but when researchers control for the effect of poverty, American test scores are near the top of the world. Our unimpressive overall scores are because the US has the second highest level of child poverty among all 34 economically advanced countries (now over 20% nationally and around 80% in some inner city school districts), compared to high-scoring Finland’s child poverty level of 5%).

Poverty means poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and lack of access to books, among other things. Study after study confirms that all of these have a profound negative impact on school performance. The best teaching and best standards in the world will not help if students are hungry, ill and have little access to books. 
Instead of protecting children from the effects of poverty, the common core cointinues to invest billions in inappropriate and harmful standards, and useless testing.
I suggest Mr. Nye take a closer look at this issue. 

Friday, December 23, 2016

Almost 40 Percent of ASD Teachers Lack Basic Qualifications

When Walton Foundation shill, Dr. Gary Henry, was asked about the fact that almost 40 percent of ASD teachers lacked basic teaching qualifications, his response included this gem:
"It’s a relatively low bar for traditional schools to meet, but it’s probably not a meaningful statistic for parents to focus on when they’re thinking about choosing a school for their child."
Dr. Gary Henry may know statistics, which is one of his specialties--the other being political science--but he is not an educator, nor is he an education professor. Nor does he know anything about what should be important for parents when they consider the quality of schools.

I am wondering if Dr. Henry would be cavalier about the quality of teachers in his own child's school as he is for the poorest kids in Tennessee. Would he shrug at the fact that almost forty percent of the teachers at his grandson's school do not have the most basic qualifications to teach? Would he allow his children or grandchildren to attend the ASD's prison-like corporate charter schools that have replaced the public schools in the poorest areas of Nashville and Memphis?

Dr. Henry's primary involvement in studying the ASD has been to make sure that the Walton Foundation (the Walmart empire) gets to put its heavy thumb on the scale to weigh the value of the disgraceful Achievement School District. Dr. Henry is the recipient of a $350,000 Walton Foundation grant to "study" the ASD.

Mass Customized Learning Comes to Central Pennsylvania

This post was originally written this past fall as a FB note, but I am posting it here now so that it can be more widely available.

“Inevitable: Mass Customized Learning” is a book and an educational program developed by education theorists Charles Schwahn and Bea McGarvey. Is is one of a number of “personalized” digital education programs popping up in schools across the country. The program, implemented in several communities in Maine, has been widely criticized and resulted in large numbers of teachers leaving those districts. Concerns included the fact that there are no traditional grade levels or letter grades, students could advance only upon “mastery” of the standards, and that instruction was highly-fragmented as teachers were meant to be “guides on the side.” Ultimately it was impossible to provide the level of differentiation required by the program.

I have known for some time that CBE or “personalized” hybrid-blended learning is being incubated in south central PA. It first popped up in the Johnstown/Bedford area and now seems to be creeping over into Lancaster, York, and Harrisburg. It is being pushed by Appalachian Intermediate Unit 8. The Intermediate Unit is working in concert with the Pennsylvania Leadership Development Council. PLDC has close ties to Dusquene University via Pat Crawford (professor of education emeritus and now Director of Professional Development for the Pennsylvania Association of School Administrators) and Franny Serenka Associate Professor and Director of the School Administration & Supervision Program in the School of Education. Crawford presented at Mass Customized Learning conferences in South Dakota in 2013 and in Maine in 2014.

Besides the fact that that area is a bit out of the way and less high profile than other districts, I could not figure out why south-central PA was being targeted. Now I think I have now found the link. The push for mass digital learning came when Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13111 that created the Advanced Distributed Learning program. ADL jump started technology-based education for the Department of Defense and the Federal Government, but the plan was always to scale it for general use in K12 education. One of the first tasks was to create a coding system to manage the “learning objects” and that would support the “learning management systems.” That first program was called SCORM. It took until the mid 2000s to be widely adopted. Later, they wanted to expand the types of data that could be aggregated, so they transitioned to a more sophisticated and flexible software called Tin Can or xAPI. It was created by Rustici Software out of Tennessee. This slideshare goes into detail about how educational data is tracked across learning environments.

The thing that made everything “click” tonight is Aaron Silvers. Silvers now works for ADL and does a lot of training for xAPI. According to his LinkedIn Profile, before coming to ADL, he was Chief Learning Officer for Problem Solutions, which is (BINGO!) based in JOHNSTOWN, PA. Problem Solutions is a MAJOR contractor to ADL and they are very much involved with the transition to “learning eco-systems.”  This is how Problem Solutions describes what they do:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Memphis KIPP Calls It Quits

The KIPP school in Memphis that denied my access when I was writing my book on "no excuses" charters has decided to close shop.

It was the Memphis KIPP that had been taken over by the ASD because it had remained in the bottom five percent of public schools since its opening in 2008.  Because the school had to accept children from the neighborhood and could not recruit from the region, it's test scores remained in the basement.

When KIPP faces a situation like this, which represents a drag on the KIPP brand, they always cut and run. Or call it karma.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

DeVos: a product of bipartisan embrace of failed, racist “school choice” policies

“I stand behind the charter school… movement, because parents do deserve greater choice” — Hillary Rodham Clinton

With both mainstream presidential candidates publicly stating they believed in the white supremacist notion of school choice, it wasn’t hard to see the Trump nomination of someone as extreme as Betsy DeVos as being possible. How these abject, failed policies play out in reality is instructive.

Vice on Detroit: School choice gutted Detroit’s public schools. The rest of the country is next.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The gift no one wanted–how digital learning came to MA & Fair Test finally woke up.

from Wrench in the Gears
December 15, 2016

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced yesterday, the creation of a new statewide personalized-learning initiative called MAPLE (Massachusetts Personalized Learning EdTech) Consortium. It is important to note that educational technology is specifically called out in the name. This public-private partnership is being funded by the Barr Foundation and the Nellie Mae Foundation, one of the primary advocates for Competency Based Education in New England. There are currently twelve pilot districts, but the plan is to add an additional thirty districts over time.

Updates on the program were given to Massachusetts’ Digital Learning Advisory Council in January 2016: http://www.doe.mass.edu/boe/sac/dlac/2016-0106minutes.pdf

Digital Learning Advisory Council members for 2015-16 included representatives of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, MIT, The Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, The Virtual High School, The Center for Applied Special Technology, The American Federation of Teachers, and the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Full member list here.

According to the Council’s September 2016 minutes, the contract for the program had been awarded to Learn Launch as of that time. Ann Koufman-Frederick, the Chief Academic Officer of Learn Launch, appears to be the project contact. She has ties to districts across the state.

Within 24 hours of MAPLE’s announcement, Fair Test came out with a cautionary post on the potential for personalized learning to lead to constant online testing. And in a bit of irony, actually cited one of Wrench In The Gears’ blog posts as a reference.

A number of education activists who were aware that the structure of the ESSA was designed to expand privatization and data-mining by giving preference and support to online digital learning reached out to Fair Test in months leading up to the passage of this bill explaining the dangers and asking them to withdraw their support of the bill (see below for examples). The response received was that it was more important to address NCLB sanctions than what might happen with Competency Based Education and performance assessing.

Click here to read the whole article.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

DIBELVEC: A Word for Our Time


  •  to deprive  primary grade children daily access to picture books so their school program can qualify as "scientific" according to U. S. Department of Education/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation guidelines
  •  to make overly obedient and patterned to following scripts in preparation for employment as workers in the Global Economy
Related Forms
  • Dibelvecee: noun
    • Victim  subject to Dibelvecing
  • Dibelvecer: noun
    • Perpetrator of the crime of Dibelvecing
  • Dibelvecable: adjective
    • Person with no one to protect him from crime of Dibelvecing
  • Dibelvecize:  transitive verb, denoting:
    •   "to render, make" (as in corporatize; sterilize)
    •    "to convert into" (as in itimize)
    •    "to subject to" (as in terrorize)
    •    "a change of state" (as in fossilize)
    •    "kinds of instances of behavior" (as in tyrannize)
 Pre-Dibelvec indicates “prior to,” “in advance of,” “early,” “beforehand,” “before,” “in front of,” meaning that kindergarten is way  too late for rigorous and rigid phonics skills (as in preschool; prewar).
Origin: The term is derived from pseudoscientific DIBELS® and from the French avec, "dibbled with."
Word first used by Susan Ohanian, June 24, 2009, with no success at getting anyone to refrain from its practice and tyrannical objectives.

  • appall
  • browbeat
  • cow
  • domineer
  • eviscerate
  • frighten
  • grind up
  • horrify
  • isolate
  • jeopardize
  • kill
  • leave out
  • menace
  • nullify
  • oppress
  • paralyze
  • quicksandize
  •  repress
  • stupify
  • torment
  • unhinge
  • vandalize
  • walk heavy over
  • X-out personhood
  • Yuck99
  • Zone-ize

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Monica Garcia - Betsy DeVos connection

“Monica Garcia believes in… choice… She expanded charter schools” — Michael R. Bloomberg and A. Jerrold Perenchio’s Coalition for School Reform

Los Angeles has had its own Betsy DeVos for many years in the form of anti-public school politician Monica Garcia.

Extremist Betsy DeVos was a long time favorite of neoliberal corporate education reform oriented Liberals and reactionary organizations like Democrats for Education Reform, so it's surprising that there's a little bit of consternation coming from some Democrats over Trump's ED pick. On the other hand, right-wing extremists like Campbell Brown seemingly can't contain their joy over the arch-reactionary appointment. Ultimately DeVos's school privatization policies won't differ substantively from those of the doltish Arne Duncan or John King. She'll just get to our rulers' end goal of eliminating public education quicker than the Bush and Obama Administrations were able to.

Los Angeles has had its own Betsy DeVos for many years in the form of anti-public school politician Monica Garcia. Garcia is running for a third term, and her long record of expanding revenue streams and market share for the lucrative charter school industry is legendary. Here are some of DeVos and Garcia's connections and shared values:

  • Betsy DeVos financially supports, and was on the board of publisher (The 74) of the dubious "LA School Report", a high-profile blog that has provided non-stop favorable publicity and propaganda for Moníca García since its inception.

  • DeVos has made sizable contributions to organizations that in turn made campaign contributions to SuperPAC Independent Expenditures supporting García's elections. Follow the money to organization like the now defunct Coalition for School Reform, and Great Public Schools Los Angeles, and also the current CCSA run Parent Teacher Alliance dark money SuperPAC.

  • DeVos funds the organizations espousing racist "school choice" policies from which García derives many of her policy positions and talking points.

  • DeVos and García openly support religious, and religious affiliated organizations running charter chains. DeVos with the various Christian Identity and white supremacist organizations she's associated with, and García, whose long time relationship with The Pacifica Institute and the shadowy Gülen network are well documented.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools, Part 15: Neural Remapping of Children

Earlier this week the Wharton School of Business and the SEI Center for Advanced Studies in Management, both of which are at UPenn, hosted a two-day conference on transforming teacher education for the poor, specifically, and higher ed for the non-elite, generally, to conform to the human depersonalizing and dehumanizing model prescribed by the big money in Silicon Valley and Wall Street. 

Central to the new mission of human alienation and behavior control is the goal of character improvement of the working classes.  It is based on an amateur application of neuroscience and psychology, and it exploits the neural plasticity of children and their teachers to produce populations of compliant and culturally sterilized go-getters who always ask "how high?" when someone in authority says "jump."

This 21st version of eugenics comes packaged as social emotional learning (SEL), and it is being sold by people like Martin Seligman, Angela Duckworth, and Carol Dweck, all of whom have their own product lines to sell and their territories to protect.  

The conference at UPenn was co-organized by UPenn's Graduate School of Education, and UPenn's (and the CIA's) Professor Seligman offered a keynote.  

UPenn Announced KIPP Support in 2014
These prefatory remarks are offered to provide context for Chapter 15 of Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys through "No Excuses" Teaching, which examines a little closer the emerging social-emotional learning hoax, which has successfully hijacked legitimate work of folks like James Comer to create an updated version of the new paternalism based on psychological exploitation and human capital goals devised by the drones of billionaires. 

At the spear point of this neo-eugenics movement to make the poor psychologically invulnerable to poverty are the children in the "no excuses" charter schools, where practices remain behind doors that are unopened by regulation or oversight.  Children and their teachers are being turned into compliant robots, and the University of Pennsylvania is one of the prominent sponsors.

Chapter 15
Another Generation of the KIPP Model?
         As we have already established, the No Excuses KIPP Model schools are concerned with measuring student test performance and student performance character, which provide the sought-after evidence of both student and teacher production values.  Despite the consensus among researchers and statisticians that teachers are responsible for a small percentage of the differences in student achievement (the American Statistical Association (2014) puts the number between 1% and 14%), KIPP’s policies are predicated on the assumption that teachers are the primary influence on student test performance. 
Student scores, then, become the metric for determining the worth of a teacher.  Consistent, too, with reformers’ derogation of evidence for the effects of poverty and discrimination on KIPP students’ test and character performance, the leaders of KIPP have set into motion a schooling machine that processes both students and teachers through a system sustained by the conversion of human energy sources into academic and character test scores.  These scores, then, function to define and predict human capital outcomes.  Those students and teachers whose energy cannot be converted into higher scores are extracted before they weaken the system.
         Even though academic test performance remains the primary production function at KIPP, David Levin in recent years has worked with positive psychologists, Martin Seligman and Angela Duckworth, at the University of Pennsylvania to further develop strategies to better instill performance character traits.   Not surprisingly, the development of performance character assessments has preceded the elaboration of a performance character curriculum, as witnessed with the example below of a character progress card that is meant to accompany the academic report card. 

Ostensibly aimed to measure performance character in a handful of KIPP schools, most of the traits evaluated on the “Character Progress Report” (see Figure 15.1) serve to undergird the academic program outputs at KIPP, which are measured by tests, either standardized or teacher made. Because students have come to understand that their results on standardized tests or the “formative” tests that are used to prepare for the summative standardized tests provide the evidence of learning that counts for their grades, they have come to understand, too, that other areas of measured performance are tertiary. 
As may be expected, most KIPP students give attention to the demands of the testing regime and little else. As one former KIPP teacher noted, “They were really good performers on tests, . . . but they had figured out that they didn’t need to perform in class.  And so the teachers were not satisfied with the performance in class, but they still would perform well on the standardized test.” 
Supporters of the KIPP Model insist that self-regulation and self-control must prevail if disadvantaged children are not to be carried down a future road to ruin by their bad habits that focus on satisfying present needs.  According to a new breed of psycho-paternalists (Steinberg, 2014), future oriented self-control behavior must overcome present oriented self-rewarding behaviors.  Schools that serve poor children, then, should introduce social and emotional learning (SEL) strategies that are sequenced, active, focused, and explicit (SAFE). 
Steinberg calls for less socialization and more training of “executive functions,” which remain, as they were in the 18th Century, tied to memory capacity.  Improving memory works to raise test scores and grades, which are largely dependent upon the ample presence of “executive function.” Delayed gratification, grit, self-control and the rest of the performance character traits must be imposed and assessed in order to mediate the internal warring impulses between self-reward and self-regulation systems within the brains of adolescents. 
Based on what we have learned of KIPP’s compliance demands, the KIPP Model would seem to offer the optimal environment for dredging the new neural channels required by the paternalist psychology. However, the available research does not show any kind of character transformation happening at KIPP.  In the widely-disseminated Mathematica study (2008-2013) for which KIPP patrons paid almost $4 million, we find significant test score gains at KIPP when compared to local public school, but the same cannot be said for improvements in performance character strengths.  Steinberg (2014) offers this sobering summary of the Mathematica findings that “were not so widely broadcast”:
They [students] weren’t more effortful or persistent.  They didn’t have more favorable academic self-conceptions or stronger school engagement.  They didn’t score higher than the comparison group in self-control.  In fact, they were more likely to engage in ‘undesirable behavior,’ including losing their temper, lying to and arguing with their parents, and giving teachers a hard time.  They were more likely to get into trouble at school.   Despite the program’s emphasis on character development, the KIPP students were no less likely to smoke, drink, get high, or break the law.  Nor were their hopes for their educational futures any higher or their plans any more ambitious (p. 153).
         According to that same Mathematica study, KIPP students were significantly less well adjusted, did much more homework, and reported much less involvement in extracurricular activities than non-KIPPsters (Steinberg, 2014, pp. 144-145).  With two hours of homework per night on average, and with the extended day, week, and year, little time remains for extracurricular activities that are, after all, in shorter supply at KIPP than at public or private schools.
         KIPP’s No Excuses methods emphasizing silence and minimal peer interactions offer clues as to the growth of problem behaviors reported by the Mathematica researchers. KIPP rules appear to assume that performance character can be improved without the need for interactions with others.  With the exception of just one criterion on KIPP’s performance character rubric (KIPP Foundation, 2015c), “Asked questions to help s/he [sic] learn better,” we find that there is no need for a KIPPster to ever verbalize at all. 
Even so, former teachers that I interviewed saw enforced silence as a big organizational mistake, a pedagogical shortcoming, and an oppressive fixation that was not in the best interests of students or teachers. One teacher offered important insights into the effects of the limited opportunities for isolated and disadvantaged children to learn how dialogue works:
Well, some of these students come from broken homes and they’ve experienced trauma, which is essentially untreated in many cases.  And there’s not a whole lot of socialization at KIPP, and so it’s a lot of silence and frustration, I imagine, for some of the students who are further behind academically, as was the case here for this class.  Because they were expected to basically be these all-star students and there’s the No Excuses mentality that’s driven in throughout the entire school year, there’s just all this frustration throughout the day. 
         And they’re not allowed to really bond with each other throughout the day, so there’s a lot of conflict amongst each other.  And so some of the disrespect that I see between my students there at KIPP—I think had to deal with the fact that they didn’t have a real good opportunity to bond.  But it was due to the fact that many of them have had traumatic lives or continue to experience trauma and are punished instead of really being cared for and listened to, even.  The big thing at KIPP was no talking back no matter what—I don’t want to hear it.  You could receive a harsher punishment if you even utter a word of talking back in response [to a] punishment.
         Among the teachers interviewed for this book, there was a shared anxiety with regards to what KIPP’s lockdown environment will eventually produce.  As student success entails a sense of empowerment, or the ability to not only control but to affect or transform one’s world, these former teachers understood the danger that the KIPP Model poses to that purpose or aim.  The resulting anxiety is represented by the statement below, which expresses concern that the KIPP influence would continue to reach beyond the 183 KIPP franchises:
I am worried that if the KIPP motto starts to spread that it will end up going into public schools as well and then because KIPP is so test-focused, other schools are going to be that way. I feel like we are just going to be creating robots, like people who aren’t really able to think for themselves and be creative and expressive and be able to have their own personalities. I am just worried that it is just going to create a society of people who are going to be complacent and just kind of do whatever people tell them to do because that is what they have learned their whole life.
         Growing interest among corporate foundations and their think tanks (Center on Children and Families at Brookings, 2014) for “character” building through social-emotional learning (SEL) interventions suggests the KIPP Model is likely to be repackaged for another generation of No Excuses schools. Once again, psychologists of the developmental variety are coming to dominate this social and emotional learning (SEL) niche (Steinberg, 2014; Farrington et al, 2012), and they are joined by new paternalists who are fixated, as they always have been, on self-regulation and self-control.  
As a solution to their character deficiencies among the disenfranchised, SEL will likely have a dominant role in the next phase of the crusade to fix the poor.  In a recent research review (Dweck, Walton, & Cohen, 2014) sponsored by the Gates Foundation, the authors examine studies that support the Duckworth thesis that non-cognitive, or motivational, factors like “academic tenacity” can have more effect than “cognitive factors” on “core academic outcomes such as GPA and test scores” (p. 2):
At its most basic level, academic tenacity is about working hard, and working smart, for a long time. More specifically, academic tenacity is about the mindsets and skills that allow students to . . . look beyond short-term concerns to longer-term or higher-order goals, and withstand challenges and setbacks to persevere toward these goals (p. 4).

              The philanthrocapitalists and their think tank scholars quote liberally from the work of Walter Mischel (1989, 2014), whose experiments with delayed gratification among preschoolers provide the dominant metaphor for another generation of paternalist endeavors.  In Mischel’s experiments, children were offered a single marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows later if they could delay their reward.  The test, which came to be labeled “The Marshmallow Test,” represents the potential to delay gratification in order to gain a larger reward later on. 
              At many of the KIPP, Aspire, Achievement First, and Yes Prep schools, children wear t-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t Eat the Marshmallow.” Mischel’s (2014) latest work, The marshmallow test: Mastering self-control acknowledges KIPP’s prominent role and places it within the context of recent research on improving self-control.  David Levin has made Mischel’s book a central component in his Coursera massive open online course (MOOC), Teaching character and creating positive classrooms, which was first offered with co-instructor, Angela Duckworth, in 2014. 
              Levin and Duckworth are two of the co-founders of Character Lab, which uses Duckworth’s experimental work at the Upper Darby School District near the University of Pennsylvania to fine tune the character performance interventions that Levin initiated at KIPP schools in the early 2000s. Interestingly, much of the research that is used to justify the use of the Seligman-Duckworth resiliency improvement methodology is the same data offered to justify the Seligman deal that cost the U. S. Army $145 million (see Chapter 1) for interventions that brought no benefit to GIs suffering from the stresses of war.  We may wonder how much these alleged remedies for children might cost federal and state education departments, whose bankrolls are much smaller than those at the Pentagon.
         A related character approach that operates under the trade name, Brainology, claims that 1,000 schools are now using its “growth mindset” based on Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset (2006).   Dweck’s work is included on the suggested reading list used by Levin and Duckworth for their online course mentioned above.  Brainology cites unpublished research that shows teaching the growth mindset “boosts motivation and achievement” and narrows both the gender and racial achievement gaps (Mindset Works, Inc., 2008-2012) A license for 300 students is available for $5,250, or the program may be purchased for $79 per student.  A separate site license for professional development is sold for $1,500.
The Brainology website has links to a handout that summarizes finding for a short list of preliminary studies showing Brainology’s effectiveness in increasing motivation, although none of the findings has appeared in refereed journals.  Even so, the enthusiasm among reformers is strong and growing stronger as the debilitating stresses from poverty rise, and the spread of educational austerity measures calls for the ramping up of strategies that might mollify those affected children whose promised rewards become even less certain.
The Next Generation of No Excuses Paternalism
Just as the appearance of the Thermstroms’ (2004) No Excuses. . . announced the delivery of a new paternalistic script for schools that serve poor, black, and brown children, the publication of another book (Tough, 2012), How children succeed: Grit, curiosity, and the hidden power of character, brought news of the next act in the school-based morality tale plotted to save the poor from themselves.  Tough provides a popularized survey of the psychological theory that underpins the KIPP Model’s character education program, and as such it moves the focus away from the Thermstroms’ conclusions regarding cultural deficits among the poor to a fixation of character shortcomings. 
Tough’s book examines the justifications and methods for neurologically-altering children in order to improve their “performance character” and to enhance their human capital potential, as measured by grades and test scores.  Instead of directly assaulting the cultural shortcomings of the poor, as the Thernstroms had done, Tough’s book centers on the possibilities for fixing flawed character.
Within the new paternalist plot outline, performance character is viewed as a collected demonstration of non-cognitive and significantly alterable traits that greatly influence cognitive outcomes.  Supporters contend that if cognitive outcomes (grades and test scores) among poor children are going to equal those of privileged children, then deficient performance character, has to be zeroed in. Even if the target’s label has changed from “culture” to “character,” the destination of the arrow has not; it remains the psychology (attitude, motivation, and behavior) of the child that must be altered, rather than any socio-cultural or socioeconomic contexts.
Tough (2012) provides a compendium of enthused speculation and scanty research findings on the capacity to alter the malleable brain chemistry and functions of children traumatized by poverty.  Tough explores the grand, or grandiose, hope for a scientific way to take advantage of the neurological plasticity of children in order to program good discipline and character. With an enthusiasm reminiscent of the heady days of eugenics when Stanford’s president, David Jordan, talked of the potential for “Burbanking the human race” (The American Practitioner, 1912), Tough (2012) quotes pediatrician, Nadine Burke Harris, who excitedly discusses the possibility changing children’s behaviors in order to alter brain chemistry and, thus, permanently modify performance character:
When we look at these kids and their behavior, it can all seem so mysterious . . . . But at some point, what you’re seeing is just a complex series of chemical reactions.  It’s the folding of a protein or the activation of a neuron.  And what’s exciting about that is that those things are treatable.  When you get down to the molecules, you realize, that’s where the healing is.  That’s where you’re discovering a solution (p. 26). 
In a New York Times article that preceded the publication of How Children Succeed. . ., Tough (2011) conceded that the earlier reform strategy of ignoring the effects of poverty on children had been a mistake.  But rather than advocating for interventions that would alter the structural conditions that enable the continuation of poverty, a new generation of KIPP Model supporters influenced by writers like Paul Tough now appears focused on behavioral-cognitive interventions to alter the body’s reactions to the stress that poverty creates. 
These alterations are to make it possible for “executive functioning,” or conscious memory, to proceed uninterrupted, despite poverty-induced distractions like noise, danger, hunger, or any of the other life-altering annoyances with which the poor must contend.  To change the body’s reactions to stress, of course, gets us back to the need to change the brain, which must be done, it is argued, by strengthening behaviors, specifically those behaviors that signal healthy “academic mindsets.” 
The flawed mindsets brought on by the body’s capitulation to stress are to be successfully altered, then, with activities and habits that increase grit, self-control, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity.  To carry out this child improvement agenda, teachers will be trained in a new pedagogy that places as much emphasis on performance character calisthenics as it does on exercising the executive functions, where memory occupies the position of the brain’s CEO. 
Where’s the Beef, or the Marshmallow?
         When white middle class corporate education reformers talk about the need to have brown and black poor children learn to "delay gratification," who can help but wince, at least just a little?  After all, black children were being trained to accept the same message over a hundred years ago, when white teachers funded by Northern philanthropists taught the children of former slaves that moral inferiority required them to wait until their race could catch up to the morally-superior white race, whose history as Christian people provided a two thousand year divine advantage that clearly justified their superior status. 
         Booker T. Washington was one of those youngsters taught this lesson of inherited moral depravity at Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, and the brainwashing he received lasted him a lifetime.  He was the first black man to have lunch at the White House, and he served loyally throughout his life as a spokesman for white Northern philanthropists who wanted their message of unforced gradualism in civil rights and economic servitude to dominate discourse among black citizens whose parents and grandparents were America’s only involuntary immigrants. 
         When Washington admonished African-Americans to “dignify and glorify labor,” for “it is at the bottom of life that we must begin, not at the top” (Bacon, 1896, p. 14), he was anticipating a later version of the same message to work hard, be nice, and be patient.  Or as some may say, Work hard, be hard, and don't eat the marshmallow.
         Today's white reformer philanthropists are the planners of another century of authoritarian, paternalistic schooling models for the children of the black and brown poor, and though some of the tools and techniques have changed from the late 19th Century, the aim and the purpose clearly echoes down to us from the heydays of the Hampton Model (see Introduction).  Today, black children are told that it is not their moral inferiority that holds them back but, rather, their character defects. 
         And if white reformer icons like Mike Feinberg and David Levin can come up with ways to improve black and brown children's character, compliance, grades, and test scores, then all the poverty in the world cannot hold them back as long as they remain patient.  Or so they are told.  In the meantime, the poor children who are having their characters altered and their cultures cleansed so that they are immunized against the effects of poverty must wait.  How long must they wait to eat that marshmallow?  What kind of threats, punishments, and humiliations will be required for them in the meantime?  Will unending patience be required until policy reformers and pedagogical technicians can discover another more compelling explanation for the failure of the oppressed?
In his bestseller, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell (2008) offers KIPP as an example to support his premise that most people achieve success with hard work and the help of others.  Gladwell views KIPP and KIPP supporters as providers of the “helping-hand” solution that is aimed to close the gaps between the haves and have-nots.  It would seem, then, that if success in life is achieved with the help of others and some good luck, rather than from personal advantage or special gift (as Gladwell argues), then it makes sense that failure should abide by the same law.  That is, if we are to no longer believe in self-made successes, as Gladwell clearly does not, then can we really continue to believe in the self-made failure? 
Apparently, Gladwell can, as he attributes the educational disadvantages of the poor to the failure of the poor.  Gladwell offers us the example of 12 year-old Marita, whose “[poor] community does not give her what she needs,” and, as a result, she is placed into the KIPP school so that she can be helped:
Marita's life is not the life of a typical twelve-year-old. Nor is it what we would necessarily wish for a twelve-year old. Children, we like to believe, should have time to play and dream and sleep. Marita has responsibilities.
. . . . Marita has had to [“shed some part” of . . . [her] own identity] because the cultural legacy she had been given does not match her circumstances . . . not when middle and upper middle class families are using weekends and summer vacation to push their children ahead. Her community does not give her what she needs. So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends -- all the elements of her old world -- and replace them with KIPP (p. 266).
Are we to believe, as Gladwell obviously does, that poverty and its debilitating effects are the faults of the poor, which must be remedied, then, by KIPP-like character and cultural interventions that require children to sacrifice “all the elements” of their worlds—except for that most striking element of being poor? Must Marita and the rest of the KIPPsters give up everything for KIPP except their poverty? 
It doesn’t seem to occur to Gladwell or to any of the other No Excuses culture-and character-fixers that providing the needed resources for Marita’s community to “give her what she needs” may be a more responsible and sustainable kind of intervention than resorting to psychological and neurological manipulations by clueless amateurs, who demand Marita’s childhood in exchange for some far-distant and questionable path to economic salvation.
This modern-day day example of blaming the poor for their poverty follows a long lineage of patronizing ideology that goes all the way back to our Puritan forefathers, who viewed poverty as clear evidence of the poor’s own moral depravity and wickedness.  For the 21st Century KIPP Model’s paternalist patrons and apologists, the poor’s depraved culture and weak character must be addressed with precision psychological fixes, so as to overcome the conditions that corporate and governmental enablers of in absentia poverty continue to silently support with a colossal passivity.  Today’s public punishments of the children of the poor come in doses of brain-altering classroom interventions that are meted out by unwitting non-professionals, yet they remain inspired by the rigid catechism of working hard and becoming hardened, for even the slimmest chance one day to be among the Economic Elect. 
In an influential report (Farrington, Roderick, Nagaoka, Keyes, Johnson, & Beechum, 2012) from the University of Chicago’s CCSR, which provides a schematic for moving forward with the kind of character education that will produce greater human capital formation, there is Figure 15.2 from page 13 of the Report.  I offer it here near the close of this book, for I think it encapsulates the uniquely insular framing that has remained so remarkably persistent over the decades of reformulated education reforms of the new paternalist era. 
In Figure 15.2 we see all sorts of connections from the “School and Classroom Context” on down to the bottom line of “Academic Performance,” which then feeds back into the “Academic Mindsets.”  On the side and disconnected from the flow of influences is “Student Background Characteristics.” And even though all of this active interplay of influences occurs within a “Socio-Cultural Context,” that context would appear to have no influence on, or to not be influenced by, anything that goes on at the school and classroom level. 
Now it is not as if the authors (Farrington, Roderick, Nagaoka, Keyes, Johnson, & Beechum, 2012) did not know of the interplay of structural factors and student background outside of school with the pedagogical factors inside.  In fact, they admit that the “interrelationships between cognitive, psychological, and structural variables and school performance are exceedingly complex:” 
. . . we situate the model within a larger “Socio-Cultural Context” that shapes the structural mechanisms of schools and classrooms, as well as the interactions and subjective experiences of the human beings within schools. Opportunity structures in the larger society; economic conditions that shape employment opportunities as well as schooling costs; the presence of racism, sexism, and other types of discrimination that give rise to stereotypes and prejudice; and stark inequalities in resources across neighborhoods and schools all contribute to the larger context in which American students learn (p. 13).
         The authors’ expansiveness in the consideration of the problem is, in the next sentence, neutralized, for reasons that those preferring psychological solutions to psychosocial problems readily explain: “We offer this model as a simplified framework for conceptualizing the primary relationships among these factors, for the purpose of framing our discussion” (p. 13).  With that cleaving caveat, then, the discussion is severed from the complexity of “primary relationships” that have to be understood and acted upon for social and economic wounds to be effectively remedied. 
In doing so, the attempt at healing begins even before the cutting stops, which will, in turn, require increasingly-advanced Band-Aids to staunch the bleeding, even as the social and economic wounds deepen and the infection advances.  The result is a corporate education reform discussion framed once again for the benefit of a failed solution with a new pseudo-scientific twist. Those who engage in it actively fortify the boundary between the psychological and the sociological sides of the human enterprise, even though history is replete with grim examples that “neither can be subordinated to the other or neglected without evil results following” (Dewey, 1897, p. 4).
If Not the KIPP Model, Then What?
         In defending schooling practices for disadvantaged, urban children that middle class parents would never allow for their own children, corporate education reformers like to talk about achievement inequities that cannot wait for utopian social plans to be enacted or for perfectly fair solutions to be found.  Whatever-it-takes kinds of action, they argue, are needed now.  Secretary Duncan (U. S. Department of Education, 2012) expressed this sentiment in 2012 when he said, “We can’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.  We can’t let the utopian become the enemy of the excellent.  And we can’t let rhetorical purity become the enemy of rigorous practice” (para 22).
         Ironically, it is the kind of consistent inaction with regards to child poverty and social injustice that has created the presumed emergency status that reformers argue now justifies the jettisoning of fair, effective, professional, and democratic schooling practices that were once the ideal of American public education.  One has to wonder, too, what price this new rigor and grit agenda will demand. 
Will it require of Marita and other children at total compliance schools more than their childhoods, which have already been claimed as a necessary cost to helping them to become the behavioral equivalents of middle class children with the stamina to sit quietly and wait for the marshmallow?  If more social-emotional learning treatments are required, what else will be paved over as new neurologic roadmaps are excavated and built in the brains of children who, otherwise, would be traumatized by the effects of poverty?
         We have to wonder, here, which is more utopian in nature and concept:
a) To expand into schools the “learned optimism” and “resiliency training” practices from the Seligman/Duckworth self-control and grit movement that have been demonstrated to have little empirical basis and no practical value in the prevention of suicide, violence, and other antisocial behaviors associated with post-traumatic stress, or
b) To strategically set about the business that justice and honesty require of a democratic society by,
·      incentivizing (at the federal level) and investing (at the corporate level) in research based efforts to create and sustain economically-and-culturally integrated classroom, schools, and communities,  
·      instituting an ongoing Race to End Childhood Poverty, which will provide adequate funding and human resource assistance to states for developing and piloting initiatives that, if successful, can be scaled up in communities with similar cultural and social characteristics,
·      developing a national plan to recruit and professionally prepare the most diverse and competent teacher and administrator force in the world, which will be thoroughly schooled in the history and implementation of best practices, effective policy planning, multicultural community relations, and the social science and art of teaching,
·      incentivizing and investing in institutional capacity to develop, implement, and study curriculum and assessment practices that address the entire learning spectrum within a variety of cultural contexts, from the simplest repetitive learning tasks to the most complex and contextually demanding tasks,
·      mandating by regulation and statute fair and adequate systems for funding public education that are subject to public oversight and accountability at all levels,
·      building a sense of shared mission, trust, and mutually-shared accountability among policymakers, educators, political leaders, the business community, and the general public,
·      instituting a system of research and public sharing that will provide needed guidance for education policy decisions,
·      creating cross-disciplinary teams of researchers and practitioners from the sciences, technologies, arts, and humanities to focus on novel ways of addressing social, economic, cultural, and health issues to benefit all citizens,
·      constructing democratic governance structures at the local, state, and federal levels that are proactive as well as responsive in making sure that equal educational, economic, and cultural opportunities are provided to all citizens,
·      protecting children, parents, and teachers from miseducative, abusive, misguided, and/or developmentally inappropriate schooling practices.
As some readers will dismiss this list as more advocacy for “utopian social change” (Tough, 2011), closer consideration will hopefully show that much of the infrastructure in already in place to move forward with some of these initiatives.  The U. S. Department of Education (USDOE), for instance, has the capacity to direct and connect researchers from around the nation and the world toward projects that could be initiated from current levels of discretionary funding. 
The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) could expand its online reach to serve scholars, educators, and the general public, alike.  Rather than incentivizing more resegregation and ill-prepared teachers with generous federal allocations for more No Excuses charter schools and Teach for America and TFA emulators, the Department could shift funding to research and development of magnet schools, controlled choice plans, and development of teacher preparation and credentialing systems that have worked in countries like Finland and Shanghai. 
Ironically, some of the foreign countries who do well on international tests lean heavily on the decades of research and shared thinking by American educational icons (Sahlberg, 2011; Asma, 2014) like Jerome Bruner, Ralph Tyler, John Dewey, Maxine Green, and John Goodlad—rather than a Harvard MBA (Lemov, 2015) with 64 foolproof ways to “teach like a champion.”
         Rather than making excuses for more school segregation by continuing to point to failed desegregation efforts of the past, unions, businesses, and governments could commit to uphold the 9-0 Supreme Court ruling over 60 years ago that declared separate schools are inherently unequal.  And rather than cheerleading for myopic and unaccountable corporate solutions to educational issues that have deep roots in economic and social inequality, political leaders can and must be forced to confront the problems that they would rather contract out to the well-connected for temporal corporate non-remedies.
         I offer a final example of the kind of program that, if studied, fine-tuned, and expanded, could begin to operationalize some of the ten options presented above as preferable alternatives to paternalists’ neo-eugenic schemes to correct the “non-cognitive” defects of poor children.  In Baltimore, a program called Promise Heights provides a number of wraparound services to a handful of inner city Baltimore schools and part of Baltimore’s first African-American community. 
Initially funded by a modest $500,000 grant from USDOE in 2012, program services are coordinated by the School of Social Work at the University of Maryland, which partnered with churches, schools, community groups, and Baltimore’s social workers to “test out ways” to help the children in neighborhoods plagued by poverty and violence (McDaniels, 2014):  The goal of the multiyear initiative is to combat the cycle of poverty by wrapping children and families in supportive services from cradle to college. Dealing with trauma is a major focus of that work” (para 13). 
         Trauma comes in the form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects as many as a third of Promise Height elementary and middle school children who have been exposed to violence inside or outside the home:
Some students bit classmates, leaving teeth marks on hands and cheeks; a few threatened to hurt staff members. Other children, dubbed “runners,” darted out of the building and down barren city blocks, with frantic teachers on their heels. The encounters exhausted Johnson and other teachers, who began to see the children as troublemakers.
. . . .Studies have piled up showing that in the tangle of tough, intractable issues like poverty and drug addiction, exposure to violence is a major factor damaging children's health. The stress that fills their little bodies breeds anxiety and depression, making it hard for them to concentrate in school. In fact, research has found that such experiences hurt the development of crucial areas of their brains — those involving attention, memory and behavior control. In the worst cases, children walk around with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder no different from those plaguing soldiers who have fought on the front lines (para 3, 7).
Strategies used in the Promise Heights program, however, do not focus on behavioral lockdown or experiments to build self-control and grit among children with little capacity for either.  Instead, social workers are in the schools and in homes to work with teachers and parents to understand what is going on and to provide interventions that preserve the dignity of children, parents, and teachers, alike.  No one is asked to sacrifice her childhood:  The University of Maryland team has embedded social workers in neighborhood schools. They make home visits and coach adults on parenting. Teachers learn that instead of asking a misbehaving child, “What's wrong with you?” they need to ask, “What happened last night?”
Other services include psychological services, parenting courses, wellness programs, prenatal childcare, asthma treatment, GED classes, job counseling, and a “parent scholar program,” which puts parents in classrooms to assist teachers. In the first year of the parent scholar program that had five parent scholars embedded in one school, school suspensions fell by 43 percent.
         Results for Promise Heights are encouraging, and it provides but a single example—a beginning point to address the many inequalities that consistently produce achievement gaps, which are the obvious symptoms of the growing child poverty that paternalist reformers and supporters of the KIPP Model ignore.  There may have been at one time an excuse for such disregard, but with what we know and can no longer deny there can be no excuse for imposing tried-and-failed remedies from previous centuries that exacerbate the problems, now grown epidemic.  Surely the very notion of education reform deserves something better if it is escape the long shadow cast by patronizing and racist education policy. 

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