The Florida Times-Union, having fired up its gaffe machine, can't help itself. After the disastrous Wednesday editorial demanding the sale of the school board building to private developers, it followed up with this:
Florida Times-Union KIPP editorial
Where to begin? Maybe with this: Kids in Prison Program
Or this: KIPP for Miami? “My expectation for KIPP Miami is one that needs to be wildly different from what we have seen in Jacksonville,” [Superintendent Alberto] Carvalho said.
He's referring to KIPP's uneven performance by even the most flawed of measures, Florida's school grades, which must give anyone pause ... well, anyone but the Florida Times-Union editorial board.
I have already established that they are sell-outs to corporate privatizers: https://stoneeggs.blogspot.com/2018/01/florida-times-union-education.html
Let's start where the T-U does: that impressive campus you see if you drive by on 5th Street that turns into MacDuff Avenue. That old run-down dog track with a KIPP banner hanging off the roof is long gone. New buildings, great athletic facilities--they even have covered their outdoor basketball courts with shelters so KIPP students can still be outside in the rain.
Amazing what a school can do when it's receiving a million-dollar-a-year, specially earmarked subsidy from the state.
And now they will get capital dollars from taxpayers because they don't have enough money already. Meanwhile, at my school, we are finally getting the peeling paint scraped off the walls and a new paint job. We have waited years for this.
Give my school a million dollars a year and see what we can do with it. Give every school in Jacksonville an extra million dollars a year and then compare. Without that comparison, the Times-Union's editorial board's point is disqualified as there is no valid basis for comparison.
The proof is not 1000 people on a waiting list; it's in the attrition that KIPP experiences like many charter chains. There are many issues involved in the operations of charter schools and many on all sides of the issues have informed opinions. Sadly, it seems that the Times-Union's editorial board doesn't do its homework (pun intended.)
KIPP is good at drill and kill instruction. That produces good test scores at times. But drill and kill will never lead to student understanding and true learning. Teach for a couple years and you will know how to game the system: test prep the students and reap the praise from good test scores. But that teacher who has to teach those students a few years later? They know that the students have little understanding and will struggle to succeed and proceed to more advanced courses.
If we want children to develop those 21st century thinking skills we keep hearing are important, then programs like KIPP are misguided.
KIPP is a zero-tolerance school. They demand compliant children at all times. Every educator knows that compliance does not equate to engagement. KIPP punishes children who do not SLANT at all times: Sit up, Listen, Ask questions, Nod, Track (which means your eyes should be on the teacher at all times.)
That's unrealistic. Children fidget, they scratch where they itch, they laugh when a classmate farts, they turn their heads and look at one another because of the intense social focus of their developmental age, and more important, they are still listening to their teachers even if they look away for a moment.
I wonder how KIPP would handle one of my students. He's extremely intelligent, scores well on tests, but doesn't sit normally at his desk. He likes to curl his legs under his body so he more kneels than sits in his seat. Does that qualify as sitting up? He doesn't track my movement with his eyes. But he's listening. Once I've said it, he knows it. Would KIPP tolerate his non-tracking because he's learning?
As I implement his IEP* strategies, he is showing more success--coming out of his shell to contribute to the class discussion, which is the stated goal of the IEP. Would KIPP consider that successful? Or would they see him as someone not fitting their rigid model and needs to go?
What say you, Times-Union?
Let's move on to the militaristic culture that the editorial celebrated. Veteran serviceman and officers bring a wide, varied, and excellent skill set to new careers when they re-enter civilian life. That makes them well qualified for many positions of leadership with manufacturers, logistical firms, and others.
However, the military culture, necessary for success on the battlefield, does not translate to the schoolhouse. Following orders without question is necessary for a military force to execute a battle plan, operate a large and sophisticated warship in crowded shipping channels, or coordinate a tight formation of jets in the air.
But education ... education is all about questioning and challenging. The question why is one of the greatest questions a child can pose for learning. Yet we are told that KIPP is a no-excuses school. "Because I said so," is the only answer a child will get for questioning as the child heads out of the classroom for a suspension.
The Times-Union editorial board names two leaders: Zach Rossley and Jennifer Brown. They say that "both have had distinguished careers in education after first serving in the military." Yet they don't bother to say what these two have done or why it is distinguished. We have to take their word for it--don't question! No wonder they are in love with KIPP.
Lastly, the T-U cites the support services KIPP students receive as if the traditional school system hasn't been crying for the same services to be provided for their schools. KIPP is only now catching up to what the rest of us know about children in poverty experiencing trauma. But KIPP is superman and the Duval school system is crap.
Shame on you, Times-Union. Shame on you for ignoring and belittling our schools, which have been doing an excellent job under trying circumstances. Shame on you for not studying the evidence that the traditional public school outperforms all others: The Public School Advantage.
You don't do your homework. Wait, you don't do your journalism work; you parrot the line you are handed by your corporate masters.
We're not forgetting your infamous endorsement of Donald Trump. Combined with Wednesday's editorial and a previous one in which you backed the wealthy elite's demand to choose the next Superintendent, this is your third strike.
You are not an independent voice. You are a shill and a once-proud newspaper becomes a rag.