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

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Jay Mathews' Sisyphean Defense of KIPP

Even as the drumbeat grows louder each day against the dehumanizing "no excuses" charter reform schools, the Washington Post's Jay Mathews holds out in his cushioned cell of corporate reportage that is designed to intercept and deaden any protest against Jay's favorite billion dollar corporate welfare charity, the KIPP Foundation. 

For Jay's skinny-ties-and-white-socks generation of old privileged white guys, the allure of the KIPP Model has always been KIPP's false promise to dissolve the education problem of the disadvantaged without the need to implement expensive, unpopular (among whites) social and economic interventions that acknowledge poverty as a systemic cause for education deficits.  Following a long tradition of racist social policy, the KIPP Model treats the multitudinous manifestations of poverty as resulting from cultural and character deficiencies among the poor, which must be stringently treated with abrasive behavioral solvents that break down the nasty residues left by poverty.  In other words, cleanse the children's character/culture, rather than doing something about ending child poverty.

The KIPP Model's miseducative and racist whitewash is implemented by white-girl schoolteachers who are marginally prepared and tyrannically managed by white male overseers.  Whether employed by Success Academy or KIPP or Uncommon Schools one of the other KIPP knock-offs, the KIPP Model claims to wash away the cultural grime of the poor, thus leaving behind middle class versions of black and brown children whose character has been fortified by pipe dreams of Ivy League colleges that, unbeknownst to them, remain the inherited intellectual preserves of the elite.

When a new book appears that is critical of the KIPP Model's callous disregard for democratic values, humane treatment of children, and responsible public accountability for the billions of public dollars sent each year to the KIPP Model corporate hell schools, Jay is quick to spin, defend, and, otherwise, try to upend any such criticism, whether empirically based or logically argued.  He tried as much when my book came out last year (my responses here and here), and this week he has once again sprung to KIPP's defense following the publication this fall of another book that criticizes KIPP's dehumanizing and racist practices.

Try as he may, however, Jay has no way to refute the glaring fact that the KIPP Model embraces apartheid schooling for black and brown disadvantaged children.  In responding to the observation that KIPP is "segregated by design," Mathews whines this week that KIPPs are "mostly located in low income neighborhoods where children need better instruction." 

Indeed.  Schools using the KIPP Model are intent upon making the case that segregation and poverty don't matter, and that test scores can be wrung out of the poorest and most isolated communities, thus proving that working harder and being nicer are all that is required to upend generations of institutional racism.  KIPP, in fact, goes looking for these poorest communities when deciding upon new KIPP locations.  For in poor communities of color, KIPP encounters the least resistance to inhumane practices that middle class parents would never allow, and in the poorest communities KIPP managers encounter minimal amounts of oversight and accountability.  There they have free rein to impose their draconian and corrupt experiments.

It is in these poor communities that KIPP is free to exercise its extreme paternalism and zero tolerance programs that require total compliance among children and parents, where the goals of intellectual and ethical development are displaced by a rigid and isolating corporate character training that places blame for society's most egregious moral failures of the past or future at the feet of the most vulnerable children who are expected to blame themselves should they fail to live up to KIPP's expectations.

At some point, we may assume that Jay will stop pretending that his feigned stupidity will protect him from the culpability that he shares in KIPPs' crimes against children.  Or maybe not.

1 comment:

  1. Criticizing KIPP Critics https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/criticizing-kipp-critics/