Bruno: A Better Way To Talk About KIPP
Stuart Buck put up a post last week making an extremely important point: "If selection and attrition is what explains KIPP's good results, then that logically means that several hundred extra hours a year being instructed in reading, math, music, art, etc. do NOT explain KIPP's good results."
Even as someone who thinks selection and attrition are a factor I've often wondered why KIPP's critics often try to explain away their results rather than pointing to them as evidence that what lots of district schools need are large injections of additional resources. And if the additional resources and instructional time that KIPP employs don't help students, then what are the odds that all of the resources and instruction provided by district schools do help students?
Because I think Buck is exactly right about this, I was a little disappointed to see the point obscured by what I think is an unjustified charge of (implicit) racism against KIPP's critics. The crux of his racism charge is that "KIPP critics are effectively saying that poor minority children are incapable of genuinely learning anything more than they already do." Even a quick perusal of the critics Buck links to is enough to see the problem: to the extent that they collectively have a coherent line of attack, these critics emphasize the "poor" as the limiting factor in "poor minority". As far as I can tell nothing in their criticisms implicitly or explicitly relies on assumptions about the effects of race per se.
Now, I do think these KIPP critics are working with an overly "fixed" and limited model of student potential. (In particular, I don't see why poverty should be a good reason to deprive students of the kinds of resources that KIPP provides.) And it's not just that my sensibilities are too delicate for a well-grounded charge of racism. I just think this particular charge is dubious and distracts from the deeper point that Buck is making about the lessons of KIPP. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)