About this blog Subscribe to this blog

KIPP: "Just Another Model Program"?

"Until KIPP tries to succeed within an entire, single community, it is, for all its remarkable rise and deserved praise, just another model program that has yet to prove it can succeed with all—or even most—disadvantaged children."

Sara Mosle on Jay Mathews' KIPP book in Slate


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference KIPP: "Just Another Model Program"?:


Permalink URL for this entry:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

So i have a question -- how can Jay Mathews cover KIPP programs in the WaPo if he has written a book about them? It seems he gets to both report on things and give his opinion -- surely we're not suggesting he has a great dualistic ability that he can separate his subjective ideas from his objective reporting -- especially when he has a news item next to a opinion piece in the hard paper...

I don't think there will ever be "one" program that works for all disadvantaged students, nor does there need to be. That shouldn't be the role of any education program because there is no one sized fits all model for anything.

In Oakland, KIPP has a selected population -- there is no doubt.

My school district, Oakland Unified, was taken over by the state in 2003. The CA State Superintendent of Education had received major campaign contributions from pro-charter forces (Eli Broad & friends). Consequently, Broad Academy graduates were sent in by the state to transform our district; we were one of the first they obtained. Nearly 20% of our students now attend charter schools.

Under this pro-charter reign, there has been NO district-led interest in looking at the charter schools with a critical eye, nor in revealing the tactics they use to boost their test scores. The only so-called “reports” I’ve seen have been ones periodically issued by the pro-charter California Charter School Association.

As a result, I’ve done some independent investigation of my local charter schools, and recently compared charter vs. non-charter middle schools using data from 2007-08.

California documents the average Parent Educational Level at each school. The PEL at the charter middle schools was 2.42. The average for our non-charter schools was 2.08. (The figure is an average of all responses where "1" represents "Not a high school graduate" and "5" represents "Graduate school.")

Charter middle schools in Oakland have a more educated parent body.

The Oakland KIPP school was third from the charter school top, at 3.27 (the highest charter PEL was 3.63). In comparison, the PEL’s for the two middle schools in the same neighborhood were 2.20 and 2.15. Of course, a lower PEL will influence each school's student achievement.

(Continued from my previous post.)

In the scheme of the charters and non-charters combined (36 schools), KIPP was fifth in PEL from the top.

A wide variation is also reflected in the percentage of students w/disabilities between the charter schools and the non-charters.

KIPP had 3% students w/disabilities. The two other middle schools in the same neighborhood had 4% and 11%.

BTW, the district non-charter middle school average for students w/disabilities is 9%. It reaches a high of 17% at one traditional middle school. The charter middle school average was 3.9%.

The test scores of the students w/disabilities are significantly lower than other subgroups. This certainly affects the school wide test scores which are used to judge each school. Also, when students have severe emotional and social problems on top of cognitive problems, the entire school can be negatively affected. Inner-city schools are responsible for many of these types of kids.

How much of KIPP’s achievement, and the praise lavished on it by so many, is truly deserved? How much is a result of parent self-selection and the screening-out of the most low-performing subgroup?

Is it right to blame the regular public schools for lower achievement, when they have a student body that is more disadvantaged? Is selection and self-selection that magical “innovation” which charter schools have discovered that will produce their higher test scores?

I'm just getting underway with looking into the enormous financial contributions that KIPP and other charters receive as a supplement to their state funding. This permits them to extend their day, pay for summer school, etc. In the meantime, the regular schools are being chronically starved to death, after which they are labeled as failures.

The KIPP Bay Area 2006 990 shows that their Oakland school received $138,117 in the previous year. This would pay for at least two teachers. The school serves ~175 kids.

Undercover supplementary funding gives the charters a hidden advantage, an advantage which needs to be brought out into the open. I believe this is one of the stealth methods chosen to undermine, and ultimately destroy, our traditional public education system.

ALL schools need to be funded well.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.