In what I would call a major conflict of interest, the book review section of the Sunday Post reviews the new book, Work Hard, Be Nice, written by Jay Mathews (the paper’s education reporter).
I haven’t read the book (it’s in my Amazon wish list) but from what I can tell from reviews like this, it’s another extended love-fest for KIPP, a chain of charter schools which have been more successful raising student test scores than most.
Their success with actually improving student learning is a matter of great debate.
Anyway, at least the reviewer included some context about KIPP’s success that probably managed to miss the final edit of the book.
Moreover, KIPP’s experience does little to rebut the longstanding social-science consensus that poverty and segregation reduce achievement because in many respects KIPP schools more closely resemble middle-class than high-poverty public schools. KIPP does not educate the typical low-income student but rather a subset fortunate enough to have striving parents who take the initiative to apply to a KIPP school and sign a contract agreeing to read to their children at night. More important, among those who attend KIPP, 60 percent leave, according to a new study of California schools, many because they find the program too rigorous. As KIPP’s reputation grew, it could select among the best teachers (who wish to be around high-performing colleagues), and it became funded at levels more like those of middle-class schools.
KIPP, as with many other school reform programs, is successful by focusing on a cherry-picked population.
It is not, as many of its fans claim, a model that can work for every student enrolled in a “failing” school, especially in high poverty areas with poor parent support.
I also wonder about finding enough “best teachers” who are willing to put in the kind of hours KIPP expects from their staffs.