by Max Brantley
The state Board of Education today declared three school districts — Alpena, Bismarck and Drew Central — were in fiscal distress. They must correct their situations or face state takeover.
The state Board also gave approval to a new location for an expanded KIPP charter school in Blytheville. As the department blog notes, KIPP had started construction without board approval, but being KIPP pretty much means never having to say you're sorry. Well, OK. Scott Shirey, executive director of KIPP, did apologize after being called down and said the school should have waited but he got his way.
More telling was this:
Richard Atwill, superintendent of the Blytheville district, said KIPP has already built the school even though at this point it is a request. Additionally, he said KIPP is already advertising for the 4th grade. He said several kids have left KIPP and returned to the Blytheville district and that most of them were behind in learning.
Scott Shirey, executive director of KIPP, said the Blytheville school hasn’t been around that long so it takes a while for kids to know the rigor required at KIPP before they enroll.
He inadvertently lays bare the dirty secret of successful charter schools. Give me schools prepared to be rigorous and empowered to drive off students unprepared to learn and I'll show you a successful school. Show me a school that must accept the leavings of the KIPP schools no matter how poorly they perform or attend or how little their parents care and I'll show you a school that a KIPP faculty, for all its innovation and energy, will have a hard time reaching. This is why the KIPPs and e-Stems of the world won't take up the challenge of taking over a failing school and trying to work their supposed magic on a student population they not only inherit but MUST continue to try to teach. No "out-counseling" allowed.
Dig into the testing and you find, over and over, that the charters haven't demonstrated much when comparing similar student populations — poor against poor, for example. Sad to say, the Billionaire Boys Club has so demonized teachers and public schools that a growing segment of the population thinks if you attach "charter" to a school's name, it must be good. It's not that simple.