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

Monday, September 09, 2019

"No Excuses" Realities Remain As KIPP Makes Rhetorical Retreat

This may be remembered as the summer that "No Excuses" became too toxic for charters to admit that they are still clinging to the abusive reality.  

The rhetorical retreat from "No Excuses" began with a New York Times piece in July, "Why Some of the Country’s Best Urban Schools Are Facing a Reckoning."
In it, I found so little to substantiate the claim that New York's "no excuses" charter schools are actually implementing any policies that would negate their brutal discipline systems that I read the piece a second time, looking for something that might justify a delay in these punitive charters' well-deserved day of reckoning. At the risk of dating myself, I could only ask, "Where's the beef!?" 

The discipline changes noted at the Ascend charter schools was covered in a bit more detail in a Times piece from 2017, even though that piece, too, doesn't say much. The other big change at Ascend appears to be a new school that lumps disabled students into one school, a practice that lost pedagogical credibility decades ago and one that cripples efforts to create inclusive learning environments. It's hard to say why Success Academy is even mentioned in this piece, since its management is staying the course on its total compliance penal variety of schools. 

As for KIPP, there seems to a kinder, gentler change in rhetoric from the top, but in terms of policy change, I can't find it. There seems to a belief that more black and brown teachers will be enough to humanize the zero tolerance "no excuses" approach. Sadly, KIPP seems to have put most of its black and brown New York teachers in a single school. In the end, KIPP teachers follow school policy, or else, and there is nothing in the NYTimes article to indicate a change of practices that demean and humiliate both students and teachers.

What is clear is that KIPP Model hell school operators would like to mold the media in order to convince politicians that the brutality of "no excuses" charter school has changed.  With growing numbers of citizens now realizing that these racist penal-style KIPP Model schools are emptying public school coffers while making policymakers complicit in crimes against children, PR campaigns now abound to present these cultural sterilization charter schools in the best possible light.  

Enter Jay Mathews, who has remains a tireless mouthpiece for corporate charter hell schools for the past 25 years. Jay's August 2 column, ‘No-excuses schools’ make no excuse for updating their approach, is devoted to downplaying the punishing practices and policies that have earned KIPP the reputation of "Kids in Prison Program." 

A formidable propagandist, Mathews cherry-picks individual policies from the Big Five "no excuses" chains (Achievement First, Success Academy, KIPP, YES Prep, and Uncommon Schools) to make it sound as if universal changes are happening to make these educational sweatshops less inhumane.  

Jay mixes in some plain old lying, too.  A couple of examples:
Sitting straight in class with hands folded on the table and eyes continuously on the teacher: Those were the rules when I started visiting KIPP schools in 2001, but no longer. . . .Walking silently through the halls in single-file lines: That is no longer the rule in these networks.
I did a cursory search on the web and found many examples of KIPP networks with these student contract elements still in place.  Here is just one: 

I will SLANT during instruction· 
I will track whomever is speaking· 
I will greet and respond to greetings from others in the hallway· 
I will raise my hand to speak and share· 
I will enter and exit rooms silently and close doors carefully· 
I will say please, thank you, and excuse me· 
I will walk quietly on the right side of the hallway· 
I will hold doors for people behind me· 
I will be team and family and include others· 
I will speak like a scholar and friend to all· 
I will keep hands, feet, and objects to myself· 
I will communicate with my parents by providing them with flyers from school

Jay says that "No-excuses is so 20th century. Let’s talk about something new."  That will only be possible, Jay, when realities in these lock-down schools actually change to match the misleading rhetoric that you continue to propagate.

1 comment:

  1. Pavlov and Skinner at their best. What to do, what to day, how to act! How to sit, how to bark, how to slobber!