Thursday, July 19, 2007

The exhaust port on the KIPP Death Star.

Every organization has a weakness. So does KIPP.

I mean, besides the fact that they work their teachers 85 hours a week in the buildings and then cut off their home life until 8 PM at night, running through teachers faster than my students go through a box of school Kleenex.

The Edgewater clone of KIPP (KIPP Harbor Academy) closed because their Principal resigned. Well, kind of. KIPPsters in Cali said that after the Principal resigned (he was on Oprah, don't ya know!) the school was closing and the teachers then found other jobs. Then the KIPPsters reversed course and stated the academy would stay open, but by then most of the staff had found jobs elsewhere, making the situation more difficult. I'm sure the KIPPsters could have scoured local colleges for graduates who were desperate to find a job and then worked them to death in place of the other teachers. A factual accounting of those events in the Baltimore Sun is here.

Complicating the situation was the fact that KIPPsters needed more space. They looked at 25 different sites over two years; none were suitable. Among them was a middle school at 38% capacity-- Anne Arundel schools (the county school system) refused to rent the school to the KIPP program. What's interesting is WaPo then comes out in an editorial and blames the county and the Superintendent of the county school system for killing KIPP.

The Superintendent didn't budge or feel sorry for the KIPPsters, saying "It's not my responsibility. It's not my school" which is exactly how he should have responded. I doubt if the publisher of the WaPo would make it easier for other papers to be distributed or sold within the WaPo's territory.

What amazes me is the free-market types who say that charter schools are needed, that competition and choice is a healthy thing that allows change and reform to flourish for the benefit of both students and teachers. Then, when the public education system doesn't obligate itself to go out of its way to help charter schools in a way that no competing businesses ever would, those same-free market types cry foul. Why would I let my school district lease space to KIPP? Those classrooms should be filled with public school students taught by public school teachers.

That said, KIPP's weakness is space. If it can't find it, it can't grow. They seem to be picky. Remember that. However, I've noticed KIPPsters spending time on this blog; they are like the Borg and will adapt in an effort to assimilate your students. Beware!

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