Monday, July 25, 2016

Schools Matter: Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: Part 2

Schools Matter: Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: Part 2:

Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: Part 2

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Part 1 here.

Even though my book was published in March 2016, I continue to document the experiences of former KIPP Model charter school teachers, whose grueling experiences in "no excuses" charter schools are at the core of Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys Through "No Excuses" Teaching.

My most recent interview was with Danielle, who taught for an Arkansas KIPP school in 2015.  Like many other KIPP Model teachers, Danielle describes a school where she received lots of criticism but almost no instructional or curricular support.  She described a school where most of the teachers who stay more than a year are from Teach for America (these teachers are looking to have their school loans reduced by completing their 2-year TFA commitments). 

Danielle described a school that tried to turn children into "zombies" who would follow orders and maintain strict compliance to unbending rules.  She described a draconian discipline system that offered ineffective punishments and no counseling, thus turning children into repeat offenders who are either suspended or sent to a tiny room that she described as a "prison cell" without windows, which was staffed by a bus driver.  She described a school without counselors or librarians or a library. 

Danielle talked about the KIPP Foundation's active role in perpetuating a system based on outward appearances that concealed a deeply dysfunctional organization, where shortcuts were encouraged to push students through the system whether or not learning occurred.  She was particularly bothered by a directive to provide a 55 point curve in her subject in order to keep passing rates high.  She talked about a system of perpetually-changing expectations and requirements, where teachers and students could not keep up with the incessant churn of altered rules and regulations. 

Danielle described a system that required of teachers more than any teacher could ever sustain over time.  She talked of teachers who yelled at children and who screamed out of frustration, teachers who ate on the run and who remained on-call until 9 PM each evening.  Much of what Danielle experienced has been experienced by other teachers who have been chewed up and discarded by a system of profligate human capital consumption.  Danielle's story will part of an unedited volume of interviews to be published late next year.

Below is Chapter 2 from Work Hard, Be Hard . . . If you are considering teaching in a charter school or if you know someone who is thinking about enrolling a child, please read this and share it widely. 

Chapter 2
Broken Windows Theory and the KIPP Teaching Model

The limitation that was put upon outward action by the fixed arrangements of the typical traditional schoolroom, with its fixed rows of desks and its military regimen of pupils who were permitted to move only at certain fixed signals, put a great restriction upon intellectual and moral freedom. Straitjacket and chain-gang procedures had to be done away with if there was to be a chance for growth of individuals in the intellectual springs of freedom without which there is no assurance of genuine and continued normal growth. –John Dewey (1938/2007)

         As we pointed out in Chapter 1, underpinning the “new paternalism” of the 1990s was the belief that social order demanded that any rule infraction, whether on city streets, homeless shelters, or in schools Schools Matter: Understanding KIPP Model Charter Schools: Part 2:

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