KIPP: “Knowledge is Power” schools!

Margaret Wente wrote a really upbeat article last month about a U.S. program titled “Knowledge is Power” and known simply as KIPP schools. As she wrote:

We Canadians like to congratulate ourselves that our society is less unequal than it is in the United States. Our schools are better, our income distribution is fairer, and our poverty is less entrenched. We should stop feeling smug. We already have a two-tier society, and it starts in childhood.”

In fact, Canada’s provincial governments, particularly in the larger centres, have been turning their public education systems into giant pretzels, trying to be equitable or inclusive when the reality is that kids from disadvantaged backgrounds need a whole different approach.

Just two examples of how much a whole different approach can make can be found at Britannia Elementary School on Vancouver’s east side and the Pathways Program in Toronto, as well as in several other cities in Ontario.

Wente also wrote: “When kids start at KIPP – usually in middle school – most are already a grade or two behind. But the teachers tell them constantly that they are smart – and they are. Every student knows the year when he or she will go to college. In New York last year, 94 per cent of KIPP eighth graders scored at or above grade level in math. In northwestern Baltimore, every eighth-grade KIPP student who’d enrolled in Grade 5 passed the state’s math test – compared with 19 per cent in the control group. Almost every KIPP school decisively outperforms its district.

But it takes a lot more than high expectations to get results such as these. Students clock a huge amount of classroom time. The school day runs from 7:30 to 5, with homework every night, classes every other Saturday, and three weeks of school every summer. One of the school’s slogans is: “There are no shortcuts.” Another is: “No excuses. You are responsible for getting smart.” The teachers have cellphones so the students can call them after hours if they run into trouble with their homework. The teachers are young, idealistic, incredibly hard-working, and very good.”

So, what are we waiting for? Interestingly, in the U.S., the KIPP schools are charter schools because they need to be flexible. Yet, my guess is that if any jurisdiction in Canada tried to emulate this program, the teachers’ unions would object — because it would mean longer hours for teachers because of the additional time allocated to their students — including those prepaid cellphones.

What an absolute pity. The very societal groups who claim they are “progressive” and want to help the disadvantaged are the very groups that are holding them back.

H/T Educ8m for the Wente article. Originally published on March 25, 2009.

26 thoughts on “KIPP: “Knowledge is Power” schools!

  1. You’re right about that Sandy. It’s a strange response since the whole concept of charters schools was invented by the Shanker of the American Teachers’ Federation!

    The reason why unions don’t like charter schools are that they are not usually unionized. This allows the schools and teachers the freedom and flexibility required to deliver education. In fact, in KIPP schools that were unionized, the teachers recently voted to de-unionize!

    School choice is not just an option for parents; it is also an option for teachers who are looking for freedom from the bureaucracy that often hampers their work and fails to recognize excellence.

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  2. You’re right about that Sandy. It’s a strange response since the whole concept of charters schools was invented by the Shanker of the American Teachers’ Federation!

    The reason why unions don’t like charter schools are that they are not usually unionized. This allows the schools and teachers the freedom and flexibility required to deliver education. In fact, in KIPP schools that were unionized, the teachers recently voted to de-unionize!

    School choice is not just an option for parents; it is also an option for teachers who are looking for freedom from the bureaucracy that often hampers their work and fails to recognize excellence.

    Like

  3. I chuckled when I saw the reference to Brittania School. When i lived in Vancouver many, many years ago i owned a house a few blocks away. It is part of the community center and an active hub of local activity.

    This area is Libby davies domain so you will understand how against the grain it was for these teachers to try to rise to the challenge.

    The people of Grandview Woodlands, although mixed ethnically, have a history of working hard and not expecting handouts.

    Their high school is also known for offering the International diploma. A friends daughter, who was as poor as I have ever seen, spent one of her high school years in Japan all expenses paid.

    Parents from all over the city now expend oodles of time trying to get their children enrolled in this school.

    For those of you familiar with Toronto it would be like driving your child from your home in Forest Hill to Jarvis Street every day to go to school.

    Only in BC could this happen. Cheers.

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  4. I chuckled when I saw the reference to Brittania School. When i lived in Vancouver many, many years ago i owned a house a few blocks away. It is part of the community center and an active hub of local activity.

    This area is Libby davies domain so you will understand how against the grain it was for these teachers to try to rise to the challenge.

    The people of Grandview Woodlands, although mixed ethnically, have a history of working hard and not expecting handouts.

    Their high school is also known for offering the International diploma. A friends daughter, who was as poor as I have ever seen, spent one of her high school years in Japan all expenses paid.

    Parents from all over the city now expend oodles of time trying to get their children enrolled in this school.

    For those of you familiar with Toronto it would be like driving your child from your home in Forest Hill to Jarvis Street every day to go to school.

    Only in BC could this happen. Cheers.

    Like

  5. Paula, the issue of shared facilities is a red-herring. Public and Catholic schools in Toronto already share facilities, sometimes even with the municipality. For instance, a public and Catholic school in the north west corner of Toronto share a building with a public libary inbetween. It works just fine and nobody, including the Bishop, has raised a fuss.

    I am currently reading the Declining Enrolment Group’s report. Nowhere do I see a recommendation to provide incentives for attractive alternatives to the status quo public education deliverable. I also notice that they examined other jurisdictions and completely ignored Alberta and the USA–the two places that alternative school choice options have been successful. Then I looked at the list of organizations that partipated in the consulations and they are the usual list of suspects.

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  6. Paula, the issue of shared facilities is a red-herring. Public and Catholic schools in Toronto already share facilities, sometimes even with the municipality. For instance, a public and Catholic school in the north west corner of Toronto share a building with a public libary inbetween. It works just fine and nobody, including the Bishop, has raised a fuss.

    I am currently reading the Declining Enrolment Group’s report. Nowhere do I see a recommendation to provide incentives for attractive alternatives to the status quo public education deliverable. I also notice that they examined other jurisdictions and completely ignored Alberta and the USA–the two places that alternative school choice options have been successful. Then I looked at the list of organizations that partipated in the consulations and they are the usual list of suspects.

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  7. Educ8m — I have an idea. Why do we not write titled: “A Response to the Declining Enrolment Group Report?” And list the participants as all those who were not invited to take part in the actual report.

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  8. Educ8m — I have an idea. Why do we not write titled: “A Response to the Declining Enrolment Group Report?” And list the participants as all those who were not invited to take part in the actual report.

    Like

  9. As you can guess organizations such as any of the Education think-tanks and business organizations were left off the table.

    The report calls for the MOE to “provide school boards with the business intelligence tools” to make multi-year plans.
    Plan? You’d think they would have already done that knowing that enrolment was dropping.

    Geesh, business intelligence and school boards?What an oxymoron. These are group of people who stifle entreprenueral tendencies, how would they even know what to do?
    😉

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  10. As you can guess organizations such as any of the Education think-tanks and business organizations were left off the table.

    The report calls for the MOE to “provide school boards with the business intelligence tools” to make multi-year plans.
    Plan? You’d think they would have already done that knowing that enrolment was dropping.

    Geesh, business intelligence and school boards?What an oxymoron. These are group of people who stifle entreprenueral tendencies, how would they even know what to do?
    😉

    Like

  11. Educ8m — said “Business intelligence and school boards? What an oxymoron.” Unfortunately, true. But, alternative reports have been done in the past with all the stakeholders who were missing in the actual report. I think it would be interesting. Have at least one round table with all the groups, have someone write up a summary. Submit the response to the media in a press conference. Something to think about. Anyone out there listening? LOL

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  12. Educ8m — said “Business intelligence and school boards? What an oxymoron.” Unfortunately, true. But, alternative reports have been done in the past with all the stakeholders who were missing in the actual report. I think it would be interesting. Have at least one round table with all the groups, have someone write up a summary. Submit the response to the media in a press conference. Something to think about. Anyone out there listening? LOL

    Like

  13. There are very few shared facilities between different boards, and it is often the Catholics who decline opportunities to share. A French public school board trustee sent me 5 examples of refusal of French catholic boards to share schools with french public boards and two of these cited ‘bishops guidelines’ in their rationale for refusal. It is not a ‘red-herring’. From K Wynne’s statements it seems she was hoping for the DEWG to make such ‘sharing recommendations’ to give her a stronger position in writing legislation requiring boards cooperate. But, the statement in the report, “While the province can – and should – require school boards and schools to consider and pursue partnerships, it cannot mandate a specific partnership in a specific community.”, shows the problem.

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  14. There are very few shared facilities between different boards, and it is often the Catholics who decline opportunities to share. A French public school board trustee sent me 5 examples of refusal of French catholic boards to share schools with french public boards and two of these cited ‘bishops guidelines’ in their rationale for refusal. It is not a ‘red-herring’. From K Wynne’s statements it seems she was hoping for the DEWG to make such ‘sharing recommendations’ to give her a stronger position in writing legislation requiring boards cooperate. But, the statement in the report, “While the province can – and should – require school boards and schools to consider and pursue partnerships, it cannot mandate a specific partnership in a specific community.”, shows the problem.

    Like

  15. Given the current, and unfortunately longstanding, power of teacher’s unions in Ontario, alternative delivery of education will remain a pipe dream.

    Your best bet, as a parent, is to investigate differentiated programming within a board and use it if appropriate for the student, identify high performing schools and get your kid into one, supplement through tutors or homeschooling, or flat out homeschool.

    McGuinty is not about to give up the support he has cultivated with teachers and unless we find another Mike Harris, and this time around, one who is prepared to go the distance in the battle that will ensue, foggetabotit.

    Just a note from one who has BTDT.

    Like

  16. Given the current, and unfortunately longstanding, power of teacher’s unions in Ontario, alternative delivery of education will remain a pipe dream.

    Your best bet, as a parent, is to investigate differentiated programming within a board and use it if appropriate for the student, identify high performing schools and get your kid into one, supplement through tutors or homeschooling, or flat out homeschool.

    McGuinty is not about to give up the support he has cultivated with teachers and unless we find another Mike Harris, and this time around, one who is prepared to go the distance in the battle that will ensue, foggetabotit.

    Just a note from one who has BTDT.

    Like

  17. Jan – As Ann said, “if you’ve been paying attention the shine’s coming off the halo.”

    I don’t know if you saw a post I put up last week from three now retired teachers — which you can see here.

    Also, there were a few letters to the editor in the Saturday National Post re the EAQO standardized testing process.

    Like

  18. Jan – As Ann said, “if you’ve been paying attention the shine’s coming off the halo.”

    I don’t know if you saw a post I put up last week from three now retired teachers — which you can see here.

    Also, there were a few letters to the editor in the Saturday National Post re the EAQO standardized testing process.

    Like

  19. This is a test comment. I have been getting dozens of commercial spam attached to comments so I have added a new and updated captcha.

    This particular plug-in seems easier than the old ones where you had to identify the letters. In this example, it says 5+3=? indicating it requires a human being to answer the question.

    Like

  20. This is a test comment. I have been getting dozens of commercial spam attached to comments so I have added a new and updated captcha.

    This particular plug-in seems easier than the old ones where you had to identify the letters. In this example, it says 5+3=? indicating it requires a human being to answer the question.

    Like

  21. I have also added a plug-in whereby commenters can edit or delete their own comments within a short period of time after they have “submitted” it.

    By the way, regarding the “Captcha” I wrote about in my previous comment — if anyone forgets to answer the question, all they have to do is click on their browser’s back button and they will end up at back at their comment box.

    Like

  22. I have also added a plug-in whereby commenters can edit or delete their own comments within a short period of time after they have “submitted” it.

    By the way, regarding the “Captcha” I wrote about in my previous comment — if anyone forgets to answer the question, all they have to do is click on their browser’s back button and they will end up at back at their comment box.

    Like

  23. Yes. He did buy it, and with our collective money. Some shine is bound to come off the halo for he has no more money to burn and our spoiled teachers’ unions won’t accept anything less than the buckets of it they have become used to seeing thrown at the system while balking at any kind of true accountability for results. That said, McGuinty is not about to further antagonize them by looking at alternative delivery models. As the economy takes a nosedive, he’ll be too busy figuring out how to tax and borrow enough money to keep them happy.

    Some individual teachers may recognize that the system is not working as it should, but the vast majority will do whatever their union tells them to do. That is, vote, picket and propagandize for protection of jobs, a rich benefits package including such things as ‘personal days’, accumulated sick days (with retirement gratuity), smaller class sizes, increased prep time, and indexed pensions. All for the sake of the children, mind you.

    Like

  24. Yes. He did buy it, and with our collective money. Some shine is bound to come off the halo for he has no more money to burn and our spoiled teachers’ unions won’t accept anything less than the buckets of it they have become used to seeing thrown at the system while balking at any kind of true accountability for results. That said, McGuinty is not about to further antagonize them by looking at alternative delivery models. As the economy takes a nosedive, he’ll be too busy figuring out how to tax and borrow enough money to keep them happy.

    Some individual teachers may recognize that the system is not working as it should, but the vast majority will do whatever their union tells them to do. That is, vote, picket and propagandize for protection of jobs, a rich benefits package including such things as ‘personal days’, accumulated sick days (with retirement gratuity), smaller class sizes, increased prep time, and indexed pensions. All for the sake of the children, mind you.

    Like

  25. Jan — Your right of course. BTDT as well. As you say, most teachers will just do what they are told to avoid hassles and given the hoopla over the FB funding issue in the last Ontario election, until a braver leader comes on board — hope the candidates in the PC leadership race are reading this — nothing regarding alternative models will be considered.

    But, as I have written here many times, we have dozens of “alternative” publicly funded schools, so therein lies the hypocrisy. We are already offering alternative models — and my granddaughter goes to one of them: Eden High School in St. Catharines.

    Like

  26. Jan — Your right of course. BTDT as well. As you say, most teachers will just do what they are told to avoid hassles and given the hoopla over the FB funding issue in the last Ontario election, until a braver leader comes on board — hope the candidates in the PC leadership race are reading this — nothing regarding alternative models will be considered.

    But, as I have written here many times, we have dozens of “alternative” publicly funded schools, so therein lies the hypocrisy. We are already offering alternative models — and my granddaughter goes to one of them: Eden High School in St. Catharines.

    Like

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