Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Cure

I often read Schools Matter, and often encounter very uncomplimentary remarks about KIPP schools. But the last week has brought a few reinforcing voices, including this one from Teaching in the 408:, which suggests that Education Week neglected to comment on some aspects of its own story:

...Ed Week correctly reports that fewer than half of the kids that begin the Bay Area KIPP schools as 5th graders in 2003 make it to 8th grade in 2006. In the Oakland incarnation, the attrition rate climbs to 75 percent. The article ignores the fact that these lost students are overwhelmingly African-American males. The three Bay Area KIPPs lost 77, 67, and 71 percent of its Young Black Males (YBMs) during this time period.

Hmm...what happened to all those kids? TMAO, the blog writer, knows a few:

Students at my school who have left KIPP have done so because of the debilitating effects of the shame and exclusion based discipline policy, because they were flat kicked out, or because they were told to change an aspect of their physical appearance (hair color; hair style) before being allowed to return. None of them left because their families moved.

Wow. Well, I suppose if I were able to dictate what my students should do, what color hair they could have, and kick out any and all who defied me, I could achieve outstanding results as well. In the real world, though, every kid kicked out of a charter would land in the classroom of a public school teacher (like me), who'd then be vilified by the Daily News for being unable to keep up with KIPP.

This brings me to another blogger, whom I'd almost forgotten about. Clever Newoldschoolteacher blogs at Oh, Snap (though not for some time now). Her last entry described how she loves working for KIPP. Her descriptions though, don't remotely move me to go out and sign up.

I taught for 3 weeks in July, went to the KIPP conference, worked in August on my room and curriculum, and started for real in September. I have not really slept or, for that matter, sat down, since then. I love the job, the school, and the kids though. It's an amazing experience.

It certainly sounds amazing. But I'm not amazed enough yet. Let's hear some more:

It has a REALLY long school day that's hard on the kids and hard on the teachers. I teach 3 90 minute classes, 2 45 minute homerooms, and 1 45 minute test prep/reading class. My schedule is such that I teach straight from 1 pm to 5 pm. It's killer. But it's totally worth it when I imagine the alternative work environment...public schools seem even crazier since I got to KIPP.

Still, they look pretty good to me right now. I teach 5 45-minute classes daily (and walk the halls a bit). She appears to teach 9, or at least do something for 9 (What on earth do they do in two 45 minute homerooms?). I'll bet dimes to dollars I get paid more than she does. Let's say I'm wrong, though. Does anyone really think it's worth 20% more pay (if indeed they get that much) to do almost twice as much work, have far less prep time, and then spend your evenings waiting by the phone for parents to call?

If you do, I have good news. KIPP is hiring.
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