Sunday, July 03, 2011

Does KIPP Have Extracurriculars?

In a NY Times op-ed, David Brooks said:
As the education blogger Whitney Tilson has pointed out, the schools that best represent the reform movement, like the KIPP academies or the Harlem Success schools, put tremendous emphasis on testing. But these schools are also the places where students are most likely to participate in chess and dance. They are the places where they are most likely to read Shakespeare and argue about philosophy and physics.
In response, Jim Horn, a sharp-tongued education blogger who hates KIPP schools with a good deal more passion than reason, says this:
Jay Mathews is corporate media's expert on KIPP, and not even Mathews, in all his fawning over Levin and Feinberg in his book and in his endless promotion at WaPo or in interviews, even mentions chess programs, Shakepeare, philosophy, or physics in a KIPP school. Not even chief hedge fund KIPPster propagandist, Whitney Tilson, would make up such an obvious lie.

The amount of argument, on anything, in a KIPP school or one of KIPP's knock-offs, is between negligible and none, and if Shakespeare or philosophy is ever mentioned, it is most likely on one of the thousands of worksheets these children fill out every year. Has KIPP ever fielded a chess team or dance team? Not even a mention on any of KIPP's websites, much less in a news article.
Not a mention of chess or dance on any of KIPP's websites? How about the following:

1. KIPP's mainpage:
After a long day of hard work, KIPPsters enjoy the chance to express themselves in creative ways. Music, art, sports and dance are just a few examples of the programs available in KIPP schools across the country. Many KIPP schools have activities such as basketball, track, lacrosse, step teams and chess clubs. These extracurricular opportunities work together with our academic programs to create a well-rounded experience for our students.

A look inside the music program at KIPP Academy in New York City demonstrates the benefits of KIPP's strong arts curriculum. KIPP Academy students play everything from classical pieces to modern R&B and pop music, and the orchestra has performed across the nation. In New Orleans, KIPP McDonogh 15 has an incredible jazz band, while in Los Angeles KIPP Academy of Opportunity has an extraordinary, high-energy drum line. These KIPP schools exemplify KIPP's commitment that students will work hard while still having fun.
2. From KIPP Delta's website:

On April 17th, engineering students competed in an electric
car race in Pensacola, Florida and won. 
There were many different participants in high school and college level. 
 Also on April 17th, a group of students
competed in the state chess 
3. Part of a list of activities on the KIPP TEAM (New Jersey) website:
Chess Club
Film Club
Yoga Club
Fight Club
Step Team
4. From KIPP Colorado's website:
Volunteer instructors are needed to help students engage in a variety of activities, including but not limited to yoga, chess, distance running, intuitive thinking, architecture, robotics, computer programming, dance, art, and music.
5. From KIPP Philadelphia's website:
On 16 Saturdays a year all KIPP Philadelphia Schools hold Saturday School, a fun time for our students to learn about subjects not covered in a traditional school curriculum. Past classes have included mural arts, Latin dance, cooking, chess, leadership, and Tae Kwon Do.
6. From the KIPP Memphis website:
By extending the school day until 5 pm, two Saturdays per month, plus summer school, and having teachers available for homework help by cell phone, KIPP is proving what is possible in public education. We offer extracurricular activities, such as student government, art, music, chess, basketball, dance, cheerleading, and track.
7. From the KIPP Tulsa website:
The first 2 hours of Saturday school is dedicated to study hall and tutoring in the areas of Math, Reading, and English. The last 3 hours of the day, students participate in structured, extracurricular activities such as Art, Volleyball, Leadership, Chess and African Dance & Drumming.
8. From a KIPP Los Angeles website:
Other Enrichment classes include:

Mock Trial
Math Overdrive
ELA Overdrive
I could keep going, but suffice it to say that anyone with access to Google can easily find many more KIPP websites that mention chess or dance. Indeed, the whole reason that KIPP schools have longer hours is so they won't have to sacrifice interesting extracurricular activities just to get kids caught up in reading and math.

UPDATE: Jim Horn has responded, in a way. Among other things, he says, "An impressive list of five schools out of 100 with at least an example of extracurriculars for KIPPsters 'after a long day of hard work,' as the KIPP Home Office likes to put it."

Actually, it's 8 schools, not 5, and I stopped at 8 merely because going any further seemed boring. I didn't make any attempt whatsoever to be exhaustive.

Horn adds, "Still nothing curricular has turned up on Shakespeare, physics, philosophy, or argument."

I'm not sure that "argument," whatever Horn thinks that means, or Shakespeare, would be mentioned specifically on a website. But physics certainly is. Again, a few seconds of googling suffices to demonstrate that Horn does not know what he is talking about.

1. KIPP Lynn's ad seeking a physics teacher.

2. KIPP King Collegiate's ad seeking teachers of physics and Mandarin.

3. KIPP San Antonio's ad seeking a physics teacher.

4. KIPP Austin's ad seeking a physics teacher.

5. KIPP San Jose's test results in physics.