Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Seven Myths About Jay Matthews and KIPP

I was fascinated by the Gotham Schools piece encapsulating Jay Matthews latest song of praise to KIPP, which this time fills an entire book. Matthews has been raving about KIPP for years. Apparently, when you make kids work 200 hours a week, they tend to work 200 hours a week! So don't tell me that Jay Matthews doesn't know what he's talking about. That's a myth.

1. In fact, KIPP is frequently victimized. Matthews needs to dispel the myths because no one speaks for KIPP. Except, of course, Matthews himself, a lowly education reporter for the inconsequential Washington Post. The only allies Matthews has in his quest are the op-ed boards of newspapers everywhere, the mainstream media, billionaires like Gates and Broad, Wal-Mart heirs and hedge-fund managers who send their kids to private schools but inexplicably know everything about public education. I mean, they're all alone against those awful bloggers.

2. And then there's the outrageous accusation that KIPP is militaristic. Just because they wear uniforms, get demerits, chant whatever they are told, and follow strict rules ignorant bloggers jump to conclusions. But it turns out that their teachers are nice sometimes, so the accusation can't possibly be true.

3. It's also not true that KIPP families are more proactive than public school families, according to Matthews. The fact that parents of KIPP children actively selected the school means nothing. The fact that they filled out applications means nothing either. The fact that they showed up for interviews and tests is also completely meaningless. There's no difference at all between parents who go through all those steps and ones who take no interest whatsoever in the education of their children. That KIPP absolutely never gets the children of disinterested parents is completely irrelevant.

4. Also, KIPP does not kick out misbehaving or low-performing students. It's the parents who take them out, apparently, as they want their kids to go elsewhere so that they can enjoy the freedom to misbehave and perform poorly. Doesn't it stand to reason that this is what parents who fill out the applications and go for all those interviews want? The fact that these students are not replaced, and that KIPP is therefore left with only well-behaved or high-performing students is also completely irrelevant, and not worth mentioning.

And anyway, rather than kick kids out, KIPP can always just skip town.

5. KIPP doesn't care how much outside analysis there is. KIPP has no problem whatsoever with Matthews writing how wonderful it is. It doesn't mind at all when MSM editorial boards talk about how great it is. It doesn't mind being held up as a shining example of what is possible when you make kids study 200 hours a week. It's been proven beyond doubt that students studying 200 hours a week have more study time than those studying 199 hours a week, and KIPP has no problem with that conclusion, controversial though it may be.

6. KIPP doesn't brag about how they are saving the inner city. That's an outright falsehood. They don't need to. They have Jay Matthews for that.

7. The biggest myth, of course, is this--anyone who disagrees with Jay Matthews is propagating a myth.
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