Jay on the Web: What's the Best Model for School Reform?
Dwayne Betts, a D.C. school teacher, has an interesting and thoughtful post on school reform on Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog over at The Atlantic. Betts has a small quibble with Jay Mathews, who profiled the Knowledge Is Power Program of charter schools, or KIPP, in his latest book, "Work Hard. Be Nice." Betts wants to know what happens to kids that aren't in these programs.
Kipp's model is a little different. David Levin and Michael Feinberg began working in the Houston schools with teach for america and when they weren't getting the support they expected - and after a few disturbing incidents that you can read in the article - they began Kipp. Kipp relies on rigorous standards and teachers who are willing to work longer hours and students who are in school for longer hours over longer periods of time and commit to two hours of homework each night. Kipp has been able to sustain achievement over the 19 states and 66 schools.
But this is the trouble with this manner of school reform - only a limited number of students have access to these kinds of programs. What of the other students? When Forman brings this question of pockets of success to Jay Mathews, author of Work Hard. Be Nice., a book about Kipp's history, contends that a school like Kipp proves the idea that kids from low income neighborhoods can't achieve success is a lie. The assumption behind his statement is that the underlying reason money, resources and time aren't put into public school systems is because the larger society sees them as hopeless. I tend to think a large number of the public, especially the educated public, believe this. It might very well be a false assumption but it seems the American myth of pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps infects many minds, to the point that Mathews would even assert that there is a need to "prove" students from low-income neighborhoods can succeed. But that's the narrative of the underdog - do it to prove you can do it is what people are sold again and again when the evidence says that the solution goes way beyond a lack of work ethic.
Washington Post Editors
| July 8, 2009; 3:48 PM ET
Categories: Jay on the Web | Tags: KIPP, The Atlantic
Save & Share: Previous: Admissions 101: Are Low Grades in AP/IB Classes Better than High Grades in Regular Classes?
Next: Jay on the Web: Middle Class Children in KIPP
Posted by: hillhopper | July 9, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: hillhopper | July 9, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.