Looking at four KIPP schools, Columbia University Teachers College researchers Richard Rothstein and Rebecca Jacobsen concluded that students starting the program in fifth grade had more motivated parents and better test scores than their community averages. KIPP officials said their data showed no significant difference in academic skills between their entering students and other nearby children.I find comments like this one troubling on many levels as it shows a basic misunderstanding of the movement behind charter schools and school choice in general.
To me it seems blatantly obvious that the parents of students at KIPP schools and other charters across the country are more movtivated. If they weren't motivated, their kids would still be in crappy schools!!!
The grassroots push for school choice, whether it be in the form of vouchers, charters, homeschooling or any other model, is that parents are MOTIVATED to find a better educational alternative. But the current crop of educrats don't want motivated or even engaged parents (despite the overwhelming evidence that parental involvement means better educated kids). Having such parents runs counter to the nanny-state approach favored by the educracy. Parents who spend hours waiting in line to sign their kids up for the mere chance to attend a charter school like KIPP schools, often on multiple occaisions are clearly motivated.
Let us assume further that Rothstein and Jacobsen are right, that KIPP students have better test scores than their peers. I would ascribe this "advantage" to the motivated parents, many of whom urge their kids to do better, but those kids, due to a poor quality school are limited by the quality of the neighborhood school.
As more and more parents become disillusioned with the public school systems, particularly in poor urban areas, the more you will see "motivation" to make a change. On its death bed is the era of passive submission to school system's authority as to what is best for kids. The modern generation of parents, with their vastly superior consumer skills, are used to getting response and will continue to do so. In my posts a few weeks ago related to the variable value of teachers and teacher merit pay ideas, I almost always get the same kind of response--that parents don't know how to evaluate schools in the same way they evaluate other consumer products or services. It seems to me that the parents who spend time and effort, often using vacation days or unpaid leave from work, to enroll their kids in charter school have made a consumer driven decision making process to find an alternative for their kids.
We, as a society, have within our power as voters and consumers, the ability to make changes. We can force politicians, both locally and nationally, to pursue alternatives. We can force the teachers unions to bow to our needs as parents and we can make schools accountable, really accountable, for the services they provide. We do it every day in every other realm of economic activity. Just because we don't have a Ph.D in education does not make us unqualified to pass judgment of the educational achievement of our schools.