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Is This Anyway To Run A School?

Another favorite education reform program of the last few years is KIPP (knowledge is power program) and that’s the focus of the Class Struggle column this week (he also has a couple of books about the program coming).

KIPP focuses on children from low socioeconomic neighborhoods in upper elementary and middle school and, as Mathews points out, they’ve had a pretty good record of improving student test scores.

But there’s really nothing different to the way they achieve their success. The curriculum and classroom processes KIPP uses are very traditional. They simply require the kids to spend more time immersed in it.

Despite that, there is much to be admired in what is being done in the program, especially how they’ve been able to help inner city kids. But is this a model that can continue to be replicated?

Many education experts wonder if KIPP will be able to find enough principals and teachers with the energy and dedication to work 9 1/2 -hour school days, plus every other Saturday and three-week summer sessions.

The KIPP administrators are trying some innovative ways of helping their teachers avoid burnout but in the end, there won’t be many people who will last long in such a high pressure, low paying environment.

However, the bottom line to all this is that there really isn’t anything revolutionary about KIPP.

Isn’t this just another example of trying to “fix” American education by tweaking the same old structure and doing it on the cheap?


  1. Benjamin Baxter

    What about combining this with the $125,000 salary ploy they’re trying in New York City?

  2. Tim

    For most teachers I know, the reasons why they are in the profession are more complex than just money. Sure they want to be paid well, but they also want a good working environment, a professional atmosphere and that great intangible called “job satisfaction”. I think many reformers who focus on things like merit pay completely miss this aspect of the job.

  3. Chris Lehmann

    I’ve had a KIPP administrator admit to me that their model is only sustainable if they view teachers as disposable.

    Thanks, but no thanks. I think we need other models.

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