Caring educators know students never rise to low expectations

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  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 4, 2012 4:56 p.m.

    It's like a prison when students must line up without talking (unless chanting or singing official motivational songs), keep proper posture when sitting and standing, and are subject to instant discipline from staff. Minor infractions like not looking at a teacher properly or being caught with candy mint in your pocket may subject you to being separated from your peers, carrying a degrading sign, or wearing your uniform t-shirt inside out.

    KIPP schools go into low-income areas, attract students from motivated families, weed out the problem ones, and train the rest to be docile, compliant line-workers--not imaginative creators, managers, or leaders.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 4, 2012 3:48 p.m.

    Yes, Carolyn Sharette, I challenge whether they are working with the same population. Nichols-Barrer's study in April 2011 found that KIPP schools receive fewer English language learners and fewer special needs students than surrounding school districts. The study by Miron (Western Michigan University, 2011) found that black males drop out at faster rates than at surrounding districts. Specifically, "a full 40% of the African American male students leave KIPP schools between grades 6 and 8." From a KIPP handbook: "If the child fails (Ds or Fs) either math or reading language arts, then the school reserves the right to retain the student."

    I call that cherry-picking one's students. Around here we call it "counseling out" the difficult students. It's a privilege not allowed regular district schools who are left to pick up the pieces.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    Sept. 3, 2012 10:33 p.m.

    John C. - you can discount the amazing success of KIPP schools if you wish - but the fact remains they are achieving something that the public schools cannot or will not do, with the same challenging population.

    What do you mean "treated like prisoners"? I can't imagine what you are talking about. If you have been to a KIPP school, you would not say it feels like a prison. Students choose to be there, WANT to be there, and work hard to stay there. You may be mistaking disciplined effort and hard work with coercion - students at KIPP are challenged and held accountable, to be sure, but they are not coerced or forced to be there.

    Thankfully KIPP and other high performing charter schools exist to show what can be accomplished if the will and expertise are present in a school.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    Sept. 3, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    In a recent Gallup poll, confidence in our public schools ranks lower than (in order of public confidence) private schools, church schools, charter schools and home schooling. A friend of mine who is not well off and who lives in a large city in Ohio,sends his kids to a private school because, he said: "Sending your child to a public school here would be considered 'child neglect.'" More and more people are home schooling because that is the most affordable option outside of public schools. With modern technology, home schooling is looking like a much better option than the warehousing of kids in union controlled public schools.

  • John C. C. Payson, UT
    Sept. 3, 2012 7:21 a.m.

    A claim that some schools are too lax on students does not justify jumping to the other extreme, such as the KIPP schools model. There students are treated like prisoners and any good results they show are artificially boosted by having avoided or expelled the higher risk students.

    As in politics, our choices should not be limited to the extremes, but rather within the broad, moderate middle ground.

    I am glad for those students who complete college following their KIPP experience, but their success claims are not necessarily based just on discipline. Besides receiving their charter school funding from their respective states and extra funding from federal sources they receive on average over $1400 per student per year in philanthropic donations from their private philanthropic enthusiasts (Time Magazine, April, 2011).

    From a March, 2011 study at Western Michigan University we also see the 40% of their KIPP male students are winnowed out and their schools enroll fewer special needs students and fewer Hispanic students who are English language learners than their neighboring traditional public schools.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 2, 2012 8:23 a.m.

    Here's what is true. If you have policies in place and you uphold those policies then schools become places of learning, rather than being places where Timmy and Susie get dropped off by a parent for 7 hours of babysitting. If you really want to take back your schools then you uphold basic policies in place. Those who don't abide are asked to leave, after you have tried interventions. Parents who want to complain about teachers being too tough on their kids don't complain in the private school setting. What should make it different in the public school setting?

    With that said public school teachers need to take a look at themselves as well. As an educator when I see colleagues coming to school in blue jeans and tshirts everyday to teach it is difficult to take them seriously. Students EXPECT teachers to at least look professional and not like they are one of the kids.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Sept. 2, 2012 7:12 a.m.

    Not treating kids like they are in jail is a good start. I'm sure they have had probelems in NY that the rest of the nation really didn't have to go through. I'm glad they are able to soften up. I really don't think 0 tolerance is a very human expectation unless politicians and adults are ready to be held to it as well.

    Zero tolerance for politicians missleading the public.