Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Here's a great interview with the Mike Feinberg, one of the two guys who started KIPP, the Knowledge is Power Program:

These schools are quite amazing. Middle school kids who go to KIPP get into high schools like Deerfield, Andover, Stuyvesant, etc. And these are not privilieged kids, they're regular kids from the South Bronx or Houston.

If you read this piece, you realize that teachers at KIPP schools are expected to operate on a totally different level than most teachers. They are there from 7am to 5pm. They are held accountable for their teaching. They have to carry cellphones so their kids can call them at night. They have to be damn good teachers.

That's the kind of teacher I want to be. But I'm so terrified that I won't be. I mean, I don't think either my classes or my student teaching is at all preparing me for that kind of rigor. KIPP hires a lot of teachers from Teach for America. They have experience and the academic background that KIPP wants, but the thing is that they basically had to go through 2 years of disappointing hell in a regular public school to get there. The reason I didn't do Teach for America was precisely because I didn't want to start out somewhere that was doing a mediocre to terrible job of educating kids. That is exactly the kind of environment where my soul withers and dies and I have to brush the wilted pieces into a little pile and then vaccuum them up with the new power vaccuum my roommate just bought at Home Depot.

The fact is that Teach for America and regular public schools often drive people out of teaching because the experience is so terrible and so disappointing. I can stand almost any level of hard work, but what I cannot stand is incompetence, laziness, and seeing people letting kids down. I don't know. Maybe a good school would hire me right away. But based on what education school is doing for me, they would have every reason not to.


At October 11, 2005 9:30 AM, Blogger TMAO said...

The KIPP-fellatio groweth old. I work in a community school (we teach everyone, not just the almost-proficent kids KIPP recruits door-to-door). I arrive before KIPP teachers and leave after they do, as do many of my colleagues. We produce equivalent results as KIPP with equivalent students, and do it in numbers greater than 50 at a time. The success KIPP has is great; it is more than possible to achieve greater success in greater numbers, while still opening your doors to ALL students. This is the reality that is never acknowledged: Charter schools like KIPP are not even band-aids. They exist as another level of inequity, a feel-good half-measure while Rome continues to burn

At November 05, 2006 9:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your generalizations about KIPP schools are inaccurate. Some might in fact teach "almost-proficient" students, but others, like the one where I teach, has students who come in around the bottom quarter or even tenth of the nation in reading and math. In their time at our school, they get to the top quarter/tenth of our nation (depending upon the subject) and are going to some of the top high schools in the country. You're right that KIPP schools are not a band-aid; they are actually a model that willing public schools can (and do) follow to outstanding results.

It's very comforting for traditional public school teachers to suppose that KIPP schools are not actually doing what they claim to be doing, because then everyone can rest assured that a little more effort won't get them KIPP-like results. The game is rigged, right? Well, I don't know about other KIPP schools, but at ours, and the few others that I've seen, we're working with the same population that we KIPP teachers excelled with when we were taught in the school district. The only difference is, now all the teachers are on the same page, and there are no union reps or lazy administrators to get in the way of us serving our students.


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