Thursday, April 09, 2009

Work Hard Be Nice (Continued)

I'm about 2/3 of the way through the book now and I have a huge amount of respect for Levin and Feinberg (the founders of KIPP). I still disagree with many of the ways they chose to run KIPP (more in a post soon) but I am amazed by them. They worked (probably work still) harder than just about anyone I've ever known and they truly want what is best for kids.

However, an anonymous commenter on my previous post said
Do you have kids, Jenny? If so, or if you did, would you send them to a KIPP school?

I think it's a great question. Honestly, it's one I've been wondering about Jay Mathews. His son is grown now, but I wonder if he would have wanted him to go to a KIPP school.


Anonymous said...

Their school day is 9.5 hours??? When do the teachers plan, in their sleep???

Jay Mathews said...

Good question. If I lived in the neighborhoods where the KIPP schools are located and couldn't afford a private school or couldn't get my kid into one, I sure would send my kid to KIPP. There are a lot of people like that. KIPP was created for them, and they deserve as good an education as the rest of us. Whether I would choose KIPP anyway is not so much a question about the educational methods used in KIPP but how my friends and my kids's friends would react if we did that. I have begun to meet college educated KIPP parents, including a couple who came to a speech I gave in Atlanta last week. They were both public school educators, and had concluded their kids would get a richer, deeper, more imaginative education at KIPP than at any of the public or private schools available to them, including the suburbs. I think they are right. I have had children in both public and private schools, all catering to affluent parents like me, and what the KIPP kids get is clearly superior to what they got, at every level. The only question left is, and I fear this is unconsciously at the root of the concerns of the middle class folk who ask this question, would my kids be comfortable as a middle class minority in a school full of impoverished children? I think they would, and I think they would learn a great deal from the experience. One of my colleagues at the Post recently asked me if she should send her kids to KIPP or to a public school in NW DC that is mostly middle class kids. I recommended KIPP. The teaching is better, the standards are higher than even the suburban schools and private schools. But I suspect she will not do so. It would be too hard for her, as it might be for me, to handle all those shocked looks from friends and acquaintances, and I suspect such peer pressure might be hard on my kids too, trying to explain why they were going over there with all those poor kids. That is the world we live in. But what KIPP provides in those extra hours of the day is so beneficial, to kids from every walk of life, that I would be tempted to try it. My three children are all grown up, so it is an academic exercise for me, but be assured that there are middle class kids in many KIPP schools. All of the ones I know who are there are African American, which may reduce the social discomfort level. I would like to hear more from them, and people who are interested in this question. I am at