I found this interesting article and email commentary in my inbox this evening. It’s from Whitney Tilson.
Jay Mathews quotes Josh Zoia, the rock star founder of KIPP Lynn in Massachusetts, rebutting an idiotic – yet common – critique not only of KIPP but other high-performing schools: that they’re heartless, drill-and-kill factories, etc.:
I just can’t understand how a person could draw the conclusion, ‘a punitive mission statement that claims it has a method of controlling the children of the dangerous poor (Much like the philosophy of the first juvenile courts in the early 1900’s; poor immigrant children could only be ‘saved’ if they were removed from their families so that the corrupting influence of their parents could be overcome.) on its website in an effort to attract interest from corporate and wealthy donors’ from our website …
“What I do know is the following:
“In our mission statement it talks about maximizing the potential of ALL of our students.
“We had a 2.8% student attrition rate last year…the lowest in the KIPP network and one of the lowest in the charter school space.
“We have 150 parents (over half) engaged in our adult education classes. We keep the school open until 9:00 at night 3 nights per week for English classes, computer classes in both English and Spanish as well as a citizenship class.
“We offer recess every day and have 20 different elective offerings including sports teams, several types of dance … African dance, a step team, a Latin Dance team, and Jazz dance, as well as art, music, Tae Kwon Do and yes knitting.
“All students are part of an advisory with 12 or less students that meets at least 2 times per week so each kid gets a personal touch.
“But most importantly, fun is one of our core operating values. You see it and feel it in every classroom throughout the day. So the best answer is that he needs to come and see our school in action before casting judgment. It is possible to interpret our website in a negative way if that is what you are bringing to the table, but that is not what is happening every day at our school.”