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

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Peanuts to KIPPsters, PR Bonanza for Facebook & KIPP

Since 1994, KIPP's few dozen segregated charter schools and the thousands that emulate them have been hawking a late capitalist version of the Horatio Alger storyline aimed to inspire the character rehabilitation of the defective minority poor: if black and brown children and their parents work hard enough and are nice enough and bow deeply enough, then they, too, can reach the same economic summits occupied by the privileged millennials who entered the Ivy Leagues through side doors reserved for the socially and economically fittest. 

This myth actually precedes Alger's 19th Century formulaic juvenile novels by almost 200 years.  After all, it was 17th Century Puritan scion, Cotton Mather, who prescribed work as the best medicine for the poor, whose poverty was a clear indication of a moral defect for which God's disapproval was made manifest in their economic plight.  Blaming the poor for their poverty was a foundational American value before there was an America, and so was, and so there remains, a cultivated blindness to the structural and discriminatory impediments in society that keep the poor oppressed, regardless of how much grit, persistence, and zest that they can manage to exude.

For years now, the KIPP Foundation has boasted about the thirty-something percent of the dehumanized students who finish 8th grade at KIPP getting college degrees, but they refuse to talk about the 50 percent of those children who start 5th grade at KIPP who never finish 8th grade at KIPP).  If they did acknowledge the fact that low performers and behavior problems are expunged from KIPP before they ever reach 8th grade, then there would nothing at all miraculous about the one-third of the one-half of KIPP students who actually gain college degrees.  

Even among this select group of college completers (most of them from second and third tier colleges), there is a growing awareness that the students who do manage to finish college are not getting the plum jobs that are reserved for the children of the affluent.  After all, KIPP college students have to earn money during the summers and can't afford the unpaid summer internships in Silicon Valley or Washington, DC.  Nor can KIPPsters afford the foreign travel and social networking that lubricate the relations of the elite.  

Now there is some suggestion that this realization has even crept into the consciousness of KIPP CEO, Richard Barth, and the widow of Barth's former Harvard classmate, David Goldberg.  A bold solution has been put forth:  Facebook's billionaire COO, Cheryl Sandberg, has established a scholarship in Goldberg's name that will give 15 of the 4,600 eligible students a scholarship worth $15,000 per year.  My god, this adds up to less than what Putin, alone, spend on Facebook ad buys each year.

In the end, both KIPP and Facebook get to pretend that they care about the problem of the black and brown shut out of high paying jobs, all the while gaining national media attention for their ridiculous and penurious gestures.  You might call it a win-win--for Facebook and KIPP, that is. 

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Is there a study available on the college graduation rates of those who attended exclusive elite private schools?

    Abigail Shure