Given this truth, Diane Ravitch has issued a standing challenge to KIPP: take over an entire district. If KIPP really has the "secret sauce," they ought to share it with the rest of the nation and prove that every child can benefit from their techniques.
May I suggest the perfect place for KIPP to take up this challenge? Camden, NJ.
The road has been paved for KIPP's entrance to Camden anyway, what with the NJDOE threatening to disenfranchise local citizens from having control over their schools. KIPP has the backing of NJ Democratic boss George Norcross (a Chris Christie ally), so they have all the money and political muscle they'd ever need. Hell, the NJDOE is even willing to bend the rules to get the folks they want into Camden; it should be easy to firmly ensconce KIPP in the city.
Of course, there is the slight problem of KIPP's previous failure in Camden, where they turned tail and ran out of the place after they couldn't get the job done. I think the good people of Camden might be reluctant to give these folks another chance when they blew it once before.
But the NJDOE really doesn't care what Camden's citizens think about their schools (they prefer to turn them over to the cronies of California billionaires), and the state has been breaking promises to the people of Camden for years. So it would still be simple in this reformy political climate to turn the entire system over to KIPP; it's very easy to see Mayor Dana Redd going along with the idea.
KIPPsters, you'll never have a better chance to prove you've got what it takes. Camden is a "failing" district that's primed for state control. Politicians at all levels are eager for a white knight to come in and "save" the schools. A wealthy Democratic boss with his own newspaper is ready to sell the entire idea. And you're already set to build a brand new school there.
Camden is the perfect place for you to put up or shut up. Take the challenge, if you dare.
What's that? You say you won't?
Gosh, what a shock...
ADDING: Once again, KatieO cuts through the crap (via Diane Ravitch):
I am sick of hearing the same old KIPP talking points. The issue about KIPP, as well as other “no excuses” charter schools, is that regardless of incoming scores, the kids with the toughest behaviors and often lowest scores are getting pushed out. And peer effects matter. As the “tough kids”, even a handful of them, are pushed out through inappropriate expectations and ridiculous zero tolerance codes of conduct, the class culture changes as the higher-performing students are left behind. And as for attrition rates, it matters whether or not or with whom the outgoing students are replaced. (And please don’t get me started on those disgusting “zero tolerance” policies. I do not understand how it is OK for any school to treat children like inmates in prison. I can’t even imagine the KIPP behavior system being implemented in an affluent school for the children of the elite. I do not understand how it is acceptable for low-income children of color. But that’s another long conversation.) [emphasis mine]It is, and we need to have it. Because what Paul Thomas says is absolutely correct:
KIPP's "no excuses" ideology is racist and classist.The parents living in the affluent suburbs (yes, I am one of them) would never, ever put up with the segregating of their community's children and narrowing of instruction that are the hallmarks of the urban charter movement. Charters, despite their prep school pretensions, are not replicating the education of the upper-middle class; instead, they are "educating" poor, minority children in ways that the 'burbs would never accept - ways from which the reformy elite isolate their own children.
KIPP is primarily a mechanism for isolating "other people's children" and "fixing" them, creating a compliant class of children unlike the middle-class and affluent children who have experienced and certified teachers and rich academic programs while sitting in low student/teacher ratio classrooms.
KIPP's primary focus on authoritarian discipline creates a police state in schools; KIPP's test-prep focus reduces the learning opportunities for some children.
We shouldn't fool ourselves: "separate but equal" is alive and well in many of America's charter schools.