New study on KIPP: Higher attrition and lots more money per pupil

Updated with response from KIPP: at 7:37 p.m.

There are a few dissenters who have remained leery of the great success story of the KIPP schools, questioning the turnover of students in the acclaimed program. KIPP operates three schools in the metro area and a high school, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate, opens this summer.

Now skeptics are about to get some data on attrition and funding that may confirm their suspicions.

In a study bound to raise the hackles of KIPP supporters, researchers at the College of Education and Human Development at Western Michigan University and Teachers College at Columbia University found that KIPP has a high attrition rate among African-American boys.

While the study does not challenge the academic success of KIPP graduates, it raises questions about the funding and whether the high level of private dollars is sustainable. The study found that KIPP  schools benefit tremendously by donations and private funding, earning an extra $6,500 on average per pupil.

KIPP sent me a comment and fact sheet rebuttal of the study: Go to the link to see the fact sheet. Here is statement:

At KIPP, we welcome any rigorous and objective review of our schools.  We have participated on several occasions with outside, independent reviews, such as the 2010 study by Mathematica Policy Research.

This morning we received a copy of the report “What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition and School Finance,” by Gary Miron, Jessica L. Urschel, and Nicholas Saxton at Western Michigan University (WMU).  In our quick read of the WMU report we observe significant shortcomings in the methodologies used, and must therefore reject the core conclusions made by Miron, et al. about KIPP.

While this report focuses on some very fundamental issues for KIPP—student enrollment, attrition, and finances—the implications of its findings do not hold up.  We have identified, based on our quick review of the report, multiple factual misrepresentations and errors of analysis.

For example, the WMU report claims that KIPP received $5,760 per student in private funding for the 2008 fiscal year.  However, this result is based on an analysis of only half of our schools, and includes at least two instances where private revenue for regions was misclassified.   When we look at correctly classified data for these two KIPP regions, and include all KIPP schools that were in operation that year, the number drops to around $2,500 per student—more than 55 percent lower than the WMU estimate.

Here is the official release on the report:

KIPP, The Knowledge is Power Program, has been widely praised by both the Bush and Obama administrations as a successful charter school model. The program, which operates 99 schools in 20 states and serves 27,000 students, is renowned for its “no excuses method,” by which generally high-poverty students attend school for a longer day and year than local public school students in more traditional school settings. According to the KIPP Web site, “more than 90 percent of KIPP middle school students have gone on to college-preparatory high schools, and over 85 percent of KIPP alumni have gone on to college.”

However, while most of the publicity about KIPP has focused on the number of students going on to college, little attention has looked at the kinds of students entering KIPP schools and the number of dollars KIPP receives from school districts, states and the federal government, as well as private sources.

“Outcomes are only half the story,” said Jeffrey R. Heng, Chair of the Dept. of Education Policy & Social Analysis at the Teachers College of Columbia University. “Inputs are the other half and this study’s attention to factors like student characteristics, student attrition, and school finance sheds new light on these.”

Among the key findings in the report “What Makes KIPP Work? A Study of Student Characteristics, Attrition, and School Finance:”

– KIPP draws students who are low-income – but are more ready to learn than the typical public school student in the surrounding school district.

While KIPP schools have enrolled high numbers of students who qualify for free or reduced price lunch (77 percent as compared to 71 percent at comparable public schools), they have enrolled far fewer students than traditional public schools who are classified as English Language Learners  (11.5 percent as compared to 19.2 percent) and a lower rate of disabled children (5.9 percent as compared to 12.1 percent at traditional public schools).

–Nationally, KIPPs schools have substantially higher levels of attrition than traditional public schools. Analysis by the report’s researchers revealed that, on average, approximately 15 percent of students disappear from the KIPP grade cohorts each year. This finding is in line with other research, including KIPP’s own estimate of attrition. Between grades 6 and 8, the size of the KIPP grade cohorts drops by 30 percent.

The actual attrition rate may be higher if any of the KIPP schools do any backfilling of vacated places after grade 6. However, it appears that most KIPP schools do little to fill empty seats as students leave. When these figures are further broken out by race and gender, a full 40 percent of the African-American male students leave KIPP schools between grades 6 and 8. Overall a higher proportion of African-American students than other ethnic groups leave the KIPP schools. Girls are much more likely to remain in the KIPP schools across all ethnic groups.

–The level of funding KIPP receives from government and private sources is substantially more than the funding available to traditional public schools or competing charters. Using the federal dataset on school finance (2007-08), researchers were able to obtain detailed revenue from 25 KIPP schools and their local districts.  During the 2007-08 school year, KIPP received more per pupil in combined public revenue ($12,731 per student) than any other comparison group: the national average for all schools ($11,937), the national charter school average ($9,579), or the average for KIPP’s local school districts ($11,960).

KIPP received more in per pupil revenue from federal sources ($1,779) than did any other comparison group: the national average ($922), the national charter district average ($949), or KIPP schools’ host districts ($1,332).

“I am surprised that KIPP gets more money from the federal government especially because KIPP has limited special education services which are subsidized with federal dollars,” said Dr. Gary Miron, the report’s lead researcher and Professor of Evaluation, Measurement & Research at the Dept. of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at Western Michigan University.  “Charter schools traditionally receive less money because they provide fewer services like special education and vocational training.  That is why it’s surprising that KIPP receives more money than all of our comparison groups from public sources.”

None of the 12 KIPP districts reported any private revenues in the national school district finance dataset; however, a separate analysis of these districts’ 990 tax forms for 2008 revealed large sums of private contributions. Per-pupil contributions for the 11 KIPP districts that the researchers included in this analysis equaled an average of $5,760, much more than the $1,000 to $1,500 additional per-pupil revenue KIPP estimates is necessary for their program. Two KIPP districts or groups received more than $10,000 per pupil in private revenues.

–The $6,500 advantage: Combining public and private sources of revenue, KIPP received, on average, $18,491 per pupil in 2007-08. This is $6,500 more per-pupil than what KIPP’s local school districts received in revenues. Some KIPP students have as much as a $10,000 advantage over their peers in traditional public schools.

This study does not question the body of evidence on student achievement gains made in KIPP schools.  In fact, it is the view of the report’s authors that KIPP’s claims of improving test results of the students who persist in its schools faster than traditional public schools are supported by rigorous and well-documented studies.

“KIPP has been lauded as a successful private operator of public schools,” said Miron, “but this report shows that KIPP is not able to serve the broad spectrum of public school students with the money that is currently available for public schools.”

Added Miron, “If KIPP wishes to maintain its status as an exemplar of private management of schools, rather than a new effort to public schools, it will need to convince policymakers and the public that it intends to recruit and serve a wider range of students and that it will be able to do so with sustainable levels of funding comparable to what traditional public schools receive.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

53 comments Add your comment


March 31st, 2011
6:30 pm

Hey, Happy Teacher! Over here!


March 31st, 2011
6:57 pm

No surprises here. How will this be spun? What will the KIPP apologists say in defense?

I wonder, however, about the attrition findings. Did the authors compare KIPP black middle school cohort to similar SES black public middle school students? Perhaps if those two are compared, the differences noted might disappear. That is, there may be a great deal of transience in poor black students, KIPP or not. Not having read the report in depth, I don’t know if that is a concern or not.


March 31st, 2011
7:08 pm

“KIPP draws students who are low-income – but are more ready to learn than the typical public school student in the surrounding school district.”

Exactly! That’s what many of us have been saying all along. Politicians and pundits continue to tout the superiority of charter schools to public schools, but the comparison is inherently unfair. Of course highly-motivated students will do better than a public school that doesn’t have the opportunity to cherry-pick its students. Even public charters with lottery-based admissions have an advantage because of that application/lottery process requires a level of motivation by the students and parents, and those families have an interest in making sure their child continues to be welcome there once enrolled. Charter schools may not necessarily have a higher overall *quality* of students than the K-12 down the street, but they do have the advantage of all students being invested in their education, unlike that K-12’s mixed bag.

That said, I’m not anti-charter. I’m a fan of models like KIPP and others with challenging, research-based programs. I don’t think they’re the salvation of American education, but I do support them as one option. (And I say this as a teacher in a school with 80% free/reduced students.) I just really dislike the current mindset that compares them to public schools, as if the two exist on the same playing field.

Joy in Teaching

March 31st, 2011
7:11 pm

Over $18,000 per student and poor results? Sounds like a failed program. Oh wait…the Federal government is backing it. Maybe they will pour more money into it. Yeah. That’s all they need.

Unfunded pension

March 31st, 2011
7:20 pm

Must not change anything! Public school might be failing. The model might be broken. It might be a bad deal for the students and the taxpayer. But we must stamp out all innovation, all threats to change. The status quo may be criticized but must be maintained at all costs.


March 31st, 2011
7:51 pm

Could the public schools get that extra money like KIPP does, so that the public schools can actually help those ELL and sped kids that KIPP doesn’t take? Or those KIPP boys who leave the program (and end up back in public schools, presumably).


March 31st, 2011
7:51 pm

the school my kid attends gets A LOT of money from outside sources, so I don’t know if they’re really comparing apples to apples.

Helena: they do not cherry pick. it’s lottery, just like all charter schools. and in the end, just putting your kid in the lottery shows you are much more motivated than most parents.


March 31st, 2011
8:11 pm

Catlady, I agree that our low-SES black students tend to be pretty transient, but if I’m reading correctly, the girls tended to stay put and the boys tended to leave.

My guess would be that the boys get more teasing, etc. from friends in the community due to the longer hours, stricter discipline and more homework required by the KIPP schools.

high school teacher

March 31st, 2011
8:22 pm

I don’t care if we spend $20,000 per student, if kids don’t care about education, the money doesn’t help. I can tell that the school year’s end is near because I am at the end of my rope. I am sick and tired of being blamed for student apathy. Until students and their parents value an education, KIPP schools and the like will always outperform public schools.

It takes Money!

March 31st, 2011
8:49 pm

If money is not an issue, then why do exclusive schools continue to do well? Kids are kids no matter where they go to school, but the best schools charge and spends tens of thousands of dollars per student. More importantly, they continue to funnel their students to the top colleges.

School reform doesn’t start and end with increase finding, but it is a big part. We need to be honest with each other.

We have many people who have never liked the idea of their tax dollars going to educate the children of people different than them. This is what is behind the constant push to “privatize” public education and abolish the Department of Education. The anger and resentment of the mid and late 20th century continues.


March 31st, 2011
8:52 pm

They get good results and we have a problem with that??? Oh excuse me. Yes parents especially are more invested when they have gone to the trouble to find a charter school for their kids and hey that is what is needed. Of course, we are going to discount the longer hours, homework, and stricter discipline being helpful, what would be wrong with public schools having longer hours, more homework, and stricter discipline, hey that might help.

Tokyo Toto: Chernobyl Option

March 31st, 2011
8:55 pm


Maureen et al please read this article! If you are planning a road trip south through Georgia or a trip to the airport for spring break, this may affect you! It seems that our in-progress MOX fuel Savannah River Site (nuclear) will be sending it’s German made MONSTER cement pump to Japan via Georgia highways and Hartsfield! Looks like Japan is having to entomb the reactors, like they did at Chernobyl. This is SERIOUS. Please pray. If they are not successful, the jet stream passes right over the U.S.A. It wouldn’t be pretty……


March 31st, 2011
8:58 pm

This is just a test. It is now time to be very concerned!

Henry County Teacher

March 31st, 2011
9:04 pm

Bullys are loved Walnut Creek Elementary!!!!!!


March 31st, 2011
9:05 pm

Blah,blah,blah,KIPP,blah,blah. Overall a higher proportion of African-American students than other ethnic groups leave the KIPP schools. Blah, blah$6,500 more per-pupil than what KIPP’s local school districts received in revenues. Blah, blah,blah KIPP is not able to serve the broad spectrum of public school students with the money that is currently available for public schools.” Blah, blah, blah.Keep everyone equally dumbed down.


March 31st, 2011
9:11 pm

I sure hope the blogmaster will let everyone know about the 190,000 pound cement pump that will be making its way from S.C. by road to the Atlanta airport. Just in time for Spring Break!
BTW, I agree with “Blah, blah,blah KIPP is not able to serve the broad spectrum of public school students with the money that is currently available for public schools.” Blah, blah, blah.Keep everyone equally dumbed down.”


March 31st, 2011
9:12 pm

SciTeach: Yes, or the boys refuse to modify their behavior/attitude/work and get “put out.” Or boys’ mothers are less likely to be able to “make” them stay in the school. I just wonder if they were comparing like SES behavior (regular public school black boys vs Kipp school black boys).

And of course, any school that has to be found out about and applied for and, when admitted, the parents feel like they are getting a good deal, WILL have a more “select” bunch of students than the school that gets its students because the bus comes by and loads them up.

I have said before that if my school could call itself “charter” and require an application (otherwise the bus takes you to a “noncharter” school 2 miles away), even with everything else the same, the school scores would go up! Add to that any requirements on behavior and parental investment, and I am betting they would go way up. It’s that old self-selection thingy.

Jordan Kohanim

March 31st, 2011
9:14 pm

Although it my response to Waiting for Superman, this does speak to the misconception of it just being a SCHOOL problem as opposed to a SOCIAL problem:


March 31st, 2011
9:24 pm

it takes money: the reality is that education in this country has declined – by quite a bit – since the creation of the dept of education…which is why people want to get rid of it. what is its purpose anyway? The federal government should not be giving money directly to ANY school – it only makes the schools dependent on the federal govt, and then they act like puppets for anything the DOE wants…and the end results are…we have crappy education in this country.
The reality is that we pay for schools now or prisons later. but spending on schools now isn’t getting us much better than not paying for them.
Because currently, only the wealthy have school choice (where do obama’s kids go to school…huh?). I have school choice. I could send my kids wherever I want. I could move wherever I want or send them to private school if I wanted to…
So think about it – who is pushing for no school choice? And no school choice equals what we have now – which is crappy schools…which means that no one is fighting for those without school choice (which is – ta da – those who have no money)?

say what?

March 31st, 2011
9:27 pm

KIPP requires uniforms and parent participation. Public theme schools are successful as they include uniforms and parent requirements, and have grade point expectations. Clayton school system requires uniforms across the grade level spectrum, but until there is a parent participation requirement nothing will work. No amount of money can compensate for parent-school partnerships. What we have in GA is parent-school WWE slugfest, with daily barbs and accusations at who is at fault the most for failure in public school.


March 31st, 2011
9:36 pm

The fact that there is a high turnover rate of students in KIPP indicates that there is a selection process in KIPP. All good schools select their students. Good private schools select for kids with motivated parents through expansive tuition. Good public schools select for kids with motivated parents through expansive location. It seems that KIPP has found an innovative way to select for kids with motivated parents without using income. However, the problem is, and has always been, what you do with the rest of students whose parents are not as motivated?


March 31st, 2011
10:03 pm

Part of the problem is that the schools are so afraid of the parents – afraid that they will sue, so the schools don’t know what to do. they need to be able to remove the kids who are disruptive and put those kids in some sort of military type school.


March 31st, 2011
10:47 pm

” We shall overcome”? Brothers and sisters we have still a long way to go… even “small”, progress that is made is scrutinized to the point of absurdity !!! “Hey there must be something wrong here, they are not capable of performing like that ” And so it goes on and on with schools with black students KIPP or NOT under the microscopes ! What do you think standardized testing is all about? Has nothing todo with educating anybody , just a weapon to maintain the status quo !!!

Tokyo Toto

March 31st, 2011
10:54 pm

Perhaps this is a contributing factor to Georgia’s low school performance…

Dr. John Trotter

March 31st, 2011
11:02 pm

KIPP, from my understanding, focuses on discipline and will not put up with defiant, disruptive, and impudent students — the very same students whom public school systems indulge, pamper, coddle, spoil, and accommodate. If the public school systems are afraid to discipline these disruptive thugs (and they are afraid), then there is no hope for orderly learning environments and consequently orderly learning. What we will continue to have is benign neglect and abject failure on the part of the spineless administrators who will continue to draw huge salaries to be caretakers over disaster. They are just keeping house…while these thugs are destroying the house in front of their eyes.

Just today, a former administrator in Atlanta (who was, until his recent retirement, a very effective teacher and assistant principal) told me that he watched a student literally curse out a principal of one of Atlanta’s high schools, and the principal just blithely looked at the thug and did nothing. He told of another incident when he was about to testify (truthfully, by the way) in a hearing, and the administration wanted him to lie. One of his administrative colleagues warned him that it would be a “death knell” to my friend’s career if he told the truth. He told the truth. He administrative career was indeed truncated, and he was eventually put back in the classroom.

I have always said that the large school systems really didn’t want good, effective administrators who have mettle and integrity and who are not afraid of defiant and disruptive students nor of their irate and irresponsible parents; rather, they want wimps and weasels who will bend with the wind, who will be tossed to and fro with every pressure that they face. It is sad, but this is the current state of affairs in today’s public schools — especially in the large systems like Fulton, Cobb, Atlanta, Gwinnett, DeKalb, Muscogee, Bibb, Chatham, and Richmond. It’s the same pattern. Give in to the student-thugs and their parents. And people actually wonder what the problem is. This makes me think of Martin Lawrence’s ever present question, “What the problem is?” The problem is fear. These systems lack strong leaders. Why? One of the main reason is that these gypsy superintendents (I have much stronger language that I usually use for them, but Maureen would object) are making huge salaries (with gargantuan benefits), and they want to sweep all problems under the proverbial rug in order to try to keep school board members ignorant of what is really going on under the deck of the ship. The hirelings keep their jobs less than three years on a national average, and their contracts are eventually bought out — unfortunately to their gain. They leave the school systems in a state of disaster (cf. Beverly Hall). Things go from real bad to even worse during their stay.

The superintendent candidates in DeKalb will not improve the situation in DeKalb to any degree. In fact, the situation will probably get worse. Then, they will be on a search again. Cherry, Henson, Freeman, Halford, Brown, Lewis, and whoever. The searches will continue. The same thing in Clayton County. Ed Edmonds, Ernest L. Stroud, Joe Lovin, Bob Livingston, Joe Hairston, Dan Colwell, William Chavis, Barbara Pulliam, Gloria Duncan, Thompson (can’t even remember his first name — he stayed a year or less), Valya Lee, and Edmond Heatley. Clayton has had ten superintendents since 1995. Dr. Livingston was the last elected superintendent. He was elected in 1990 and went out of office in 1995. Clayton has had seven superintendents since 2003. Do you get the picture? I can think of seven superintendents off the top of my head in Fulton since Harold Grindle was the last elected chief before Fox took over as the first appointed superintendent. Fulton’s average is a little better than Clayton’s. Fulton’s appointed and interim superintendents average about two and one-half years. What about Atlanta’s? Longer because of Hall’s long tenure. But, before her…Ima Jarrell, John Letson, Alonzo Crim, J. Jerome Harris, Lester Butts, Benjamin Canada, and Betty Strickland. Harris, Buts, Canada, and Stickland were not on the job long at all.

One last word on this…The State of Georgia needs to go back to elected superintendents. There’s actually more stability with elected superintendents, and they tend be afraid not to deal with discipline or the voters will throw them out of office. I have seen it happen. It was a mistake to pass the Constitutional amendment in 1992 to make all superintendents appointed in Georgia. The quality of education in Georgia went down a slippery slope from that moments on. These hirelings, these educrats, these gypsies are running a scam on the level of a Ponzi scheme. Yes, an educational Ponzi scheme. Hey, it’s been a long day, and I’m tired and hungry — but I had to put in my quick $.07 worth! If y’all see Earl, tell him that I’ll see him and the Mrs. at the end of April. The National Association of Weasel & Wimp Administrators (NAWWA) is holding its Spring Convention in Boca Raton, and I want to be there to drive these hapless souls crazy! Each one needs to grow a backbone. It’s actually more fun in life to be free. (c) MACE, March 31, 2011. P. S. It’s my mom’s birthday tomorrow. She’ll be, Lord willing, 86. Don’t blame her for me. She laughingly says, “I tried.” Ha! She’s a sweetie!


March 31st, 2011
11:28 pm

@ Toto
Yeah, but did you see this? I guess Japan will no longer have world class schools…

Educator at heart

April 1st, 2011
1:22 am

Give traditional public schools the freedom for innovation and the additional funding…..they are already existent and have a longer track record. Why create other schools for innovation when existing schools need the same freedom? Go figure…. Redesigning the existent public school systems make much more sense to me. I somehow believe the the concept for charters somehow has grown to creation of schools that segregate children. I hear the cry “take my child out of that school where they are surrounded by children who do not want to learn, etc. etc. etc.” Charters have become a solution to create private schools with taxpayer money.


April 1st, 2011
6:40 am

KIPP has put several black male students out recently as testing season is upon us. These students of course must return to their local public school. What many fail to realize is that unlike charter and private schools, public school can not pick and choose who they want to keep and who they want to get rid of close to testing. Nor, can public school go out and recruit students that are low SES but high academic potential. So what you have are public schools that test results vary from 4th to 5th grade because high recruitment by KIPP after the 4th grade CRCT testing results. I can only speak on what I have seen. One year my school lost 8 of its top students to charter recruitment and the class only had 50 kids.


April 1st, 2011
7:28 am

Kipp also provides questionable services for students with health conditions such as diabetes as they don’t have school nurses and therefore want parents to figure out how to provide glucose monitoring and give insulin shots during the school day. That is a 504 student with disabilities federal violation. I think they only want healthy smart kids to attend the schools.


April 1st, 2011
8:15 am

Black male student returns to our school this week from Kipp. Wonder what happend there?


April 1st, 2011
8:16 am

Also, that’s one of the main issues I have with charter schools. They can get rid of problem students, we have to keep them no matter what.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

April 1st, 2011
8:35 am

The Truth,

Are you sure that the law requires you, your colleagues and your school “to keep them no matter what?”

In my experience, educrats told classroom teachers whatever would minimize the former’s expenditures of effort and money toward provision of credible alternative programming for kids who chronically disrespected and disrupted.

And we teachers have ill-advisedly taken them at their word. “Ill-advisedly” does look better than “cowardly,” don’t you think?


April 1st, 2011
8:50 am

@dr. craig spinks: honestly, the administration doesn’t care what happens in the classroom as long as the child is there – they get money if the child is there, and that’s all that matters.
I had my child tested by APS – he is an ‘active’ child, with a May birthday…and well, they said: oh, just send him to APS, he’ll be fine…if he needs anything we’ll be there.
Which was a load of crap. they don’t care a whit – they want the local and federal money that comes with a child in the seat.
I sent him to a pre school kindergarten this year. he is thriving and has grown up so much. we’re confident in not holding him back now. i’m not sure what would have happened at APS.

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

April 1st, 2011
8:58 am

@TheTruth: the problem isn’t that Kipp won’t keep disruptive kids, it’s that your school will.

Above at 11:02pm, see what is (I think) the best post John Trotter has ever written on this blog. When the dust has settled from the implosion of public schools (happening in slow motion right now in front of all of us); when public school systems are only running a few threadbare schools in bad neighborhoods where parents can’t be bothered to care (while other neighborhoods run successful charters), John Trotter will be the last man standing, because he’s right: thug students and their enablers, the weak-kneed educrats, are a slow-release poison that must be sucked out of the system.

When parents finally tire of the endless excuses of municipal employees and take over the job of running schools; when we impose a uniform discipline code; when we begin to hold all parents accountable for their childrens’ performance AND behavior in the classroom–THAT’s when we’ll “win the future.”

To all you educators out there who are pleading for taxpayers to give you “just one more chance” (or, the perpetual favorite “more resources”), you will ALWAYS find new excuses when your next round of “reforms” don’t pan out.

But here’s the rub: it’s not you who’s really failing. It’s us, for forcing you to try to educate children who refuse to be educated from families who refuse to support your efforts. We ask you to do something impossible then profess bewilderment when you can’t do it.

It’s time to stop doing that, and put those kids in the last remaining “public schools” and let you warehouse them until they’re old enough to work at the DMV. Because we can’t save those who refuse to be saved.

Double Zero Eight

April 1st, 2011
9:38 am

Lack of parental involvement and discipline are two main
reasons for the abysmal results in most public schools.
Address those two issues and you will see a signficant
improvement in the results. The question is how do you
augment parental involvement? The sad truth is many
parents view public public schools as a free resource,
and don’t care enough to get deeply involved as a result.

Private schools are successful because parents want a
return on their investment. They are involved to ensure
they are not wasting thousands of dollars of their hard
earned money, while forfeiting the tax dollars they are
not utilizing for a public school.

We need some more “Lean On Me” type principals
as portrayed by Morgan Freeman in the movie.
If the amount of money spent per student was the
solution, APS would be one of the best school
systems in the state.

I always wondered why APS puts Atlanta Public
Schools on their buses. No other city or county
in the metro area that I am aware of includes
the word “public” on their bus signage. City of Atlanta
Schools sounds much better.


high school teacher

April 1st, 2011
11:10 am

“If money is not an issue, then why do exclusive schools continue to do well? Kids are kids no matter where they go to school, but the best schools charge and spends tens of thousands of dollars per student. ”

It Takes Money,

If we’re going to be honest, then let’s discuss demographics and the type of students whose parents are able to pay tens of thousands of dollars per student.

Double Zero Eight

April 1st, 2011
7:33 pm

@ high school teacher
The key is parental involvement.
That is why some children from the poorest
neighborhoods are able to do well in sub-par
public inner city schools.

If you send your child to a private school, you
are going to make sure your child is not wasing your money.
As a result, you have a vested interest and will be heavily involved,
to ensure your hard earned money is not wasted.

I know that I was.


April 1st, 2011
11:14 pm

Since AVERAGES are used to report the gains shown by KIPP schools and since those gains are part of the miracle of KIPP, what would happen to those averages if the scores of the dismissed students were included rather than excluded? If public schools were allowed to pick and choose their students, I’m sure their scores would show tremendous gains as well.

However, those of us teaching in public schools have this ideal within us that we are here to teach all students. We take them all into our classrooms. Whether they come from stable or unstable homes. Whether their parents make sure they are prepared or not. Whether they are clean or smelly. Whether they are compliant or defiant. We take them and try to make their lives better by being teachers for them. And to top it off, we actually care about each one of the children who enter our classrooms everyday.

These factors separate us from businesses.


April 1st, 2011
11:21 pm


April 1st, 2011
11:43 pm

Teachers, please tell me public school students don’t do this in Georgia….

“And Chicago Public Schools officials are investigating a teacher who apparently posted a photo on her Facebook page of a student who wore Jolly Rancher candies in her hair.”


April 1st, 2011
11:53 pm

“The teacher and her friends proceeded to make fun of the child’s hairstyle, which, of course, got back to the girl’s mother. Now the child’s mother, who braided the candies in her daughter’s hair at her request, is filing a lawsuit against Chicago Public Schools because the teacher was not reprimanded.”

The lawyers love Facebook!


April 2nd, 2011
12:13 am

I get it. Before I saw the video, I thought wet unwrapped candies were stuck in her hair!
You know, Crayolas might be cute and they have more colors to choose from.


April 2nd, 2011
11:41 am

From the “Twilight” zone:
“Arne Duncan’s Brave New World: Dept. of Education Wants Your Kid’s Blood Type?”

CharterStarter, Too

April 2nd, 2011
4:05 pm

Catlady – I like your comments today. I was also curious about comparable attrition rates in black male students.

Helena – I believe you are assuming that just because a parent is motivated to enroll their children that both the parent and the children are motivated to succeed. Charters deal with unmotivated kids and parents just like traditional schools do. The school culture often can turn kids and parents around over time though. KIPP is a testament to that. I agree that charters aren’t the cure to public education – school choice is an important component, and so are options within a given school system.

Educator at Heart – Did you know that ANY school district can request waivers? Many do. Has this raised the achievement in these districts substantially? No. Did you know that districts can turn traditional schools into “charter” schools right now (and have been able to for many years)? Many do. Is the achievement in these schools higher than their district schools? Sometimes, but not always. Is the achievement in these schools higher than START UP charter schools? Rarely if ever. Here’s the problem – TRUE chartering requires autonomy/local governance and innovation. Start-up charter schools with local governance (parents and community members making decisions about budget, hiring, and instructional plans/programs) have higher achievement. Charters with innovative organizational and academic designs have higher achievement.

Districts COULD choose to utilize the flexiblity afforded in the charter school law IF they’d be willing to give up some control. But most haven’t so far. I’m anxious to see what happens with system “charters” – doubtful there will be any upwards movement in student achievement because of the top down governance and managment and lack of true innovation. It drives me crazy hearing about “if only we had the flexibilty of the charters, we could raise achievement…” You do. Now exercise the privileges the flexibility affords and be held accountable to achievement like the start-ups are.

fedup mom

April 2nd, 2011
8:37 pm

Are the KIPP schools really doing better than the public schools? Don’t just look at the CRCT test scores, you will not be comparing apples to apples. You can’t compare 70-90 students per grade level to 900-1000 students in a district. I wish somebody will really do the research to see what a MESS some of the KIPP schools are in. They look good on paper only!!!

Public & Private Parent

April 3rd, 2011
6:20 am

Whoaaaa! @Trotter and @Springdale are telling the truth and shaming the devil on this one. We parents these days want to see RESULTS. While we want to care about reform models, attrition rates, etc., at the end of the day, we want to see OUR OWN children thriving, by any means necessary. If a particular type of school works for your child, then by all means, tune out the chatter of research groups and edu-zealots who probably don’t even send their kids to neighborhood public schools. Go with your gut and demand the best education for YOUR child.

@starmom brought up the point of so many kids being “recruited” by charters. That’s because parents will no longer accept the status quo. Parents look around, in about 4th grade, and realize that little Johnny up the street, who attends a local charter or private school is learning and mastering more material than their kid, traveling and being exposed to more opportunities than their kid and turning into more of a global thinker than their kid. I mean, who wouldn’t jump ship? I’m more amazed at the “smart” parents I know who don’t even look into schools like KIPP, Drew Charter and others. On a side note, I just LOVE how all the articles and studies classify kids going to school at KIPP as poor, inner city youth LOL. All of the parents I know with kids at KIPP are working, usually two parent households with college degrees. Often times multiple degrees and often times public school educators themselves.

What is happening right now is a parental uprising of sorts and those who control the purse strings are doing anything and everything they can to stop parents from “getting out of control.” Ummmm, it’s too late….the parent takeover is happening.

Wheeler Mom

April 3rd, 2011
10:22 am

@ Public & Private Parent – do you realize your statement “All of the parents I know with kids at KIPP are working, usually two parent households with college degrees. Often times multiple degrees and often times public school educators themselves. ” SUPPORTS the idea that parent involvement is key? Something these teachers have been saying all along that makes these schools different?


April 3rd, 2011
2:14 pm

Parent involvement is key to these Charter schools and comparing charter schools to public schools is not comparing apples to apples. Charter schools take the cream of the crop and they definitely only have 100 kids compared to 500 kids in the local public school. Heck they really are little private schools truth be told that are operating with public school dollars. The other little known secret is that the public schools providing the funding really aren’t monitoring them comprehensively. They monitor test scores and that is it! They could care less what else goes on in those schools. So parents better keep their eyes and ears open at all times.

CharterStarter, Too

April 3rd, 2011
3:36 pm

@ Parent: Can you please provide some specifics rather than vague generalities? The charters are required to report at least annually (often more) to the state and their primary authorizer not only test related data, but also an independent audit and a number of other pieces of information to monitor performance against their academics and business operations.

Secondly, HOW do they cream students? They must have a PUBLIC lottery. So how would they do this? I know our lottery is widely attended and we record them as well so there will be no question.

Third, charters vary in size – some are smaller than traditional schools, some about average, and other a bit larger than traditional school counterparts. Check it out on the state website – you can look at all sorts of data, including school size there, and I think you’ll find you’re misinformed.

Again, please substantiate your opinion with something meaningful other than an uninformed and grossly erroneous opinion.


April 4th, 2011
2:57 pm

I am a charter school advocate, and nothing makes me more irate than seeing charter schools do things that cannot be scaled up and replicated in a district school. The neglect to backfill empty seats is a tactic that I have seen used in at least one other charter school in order to narrow the pool of test takers to only those students who are fully invested in the school’s mission. As each cohort progresses, it becomes smaller. Districts cannot have this luxury, and charters cannot do this if they want credibility.

Another beef I’ve always had with the KIPP model is their insistence on schooling kids from 7 AM to 5 PM every day, every other Saturday, and for three weeks in the summers. More time in school is not the only way to produce higher student achievement–the BEST way to produce it is to provide strong, accomplished teachers in every classroom for every class period for every student.

To those who continue to gripe that district schools are barred from the same kinds of innovations that charters are allowed to pursue: there is nothing preventing any Georgia public school district from requesting a Title 20 waiver to be exempt from restrictions (except for state testing, fingerprinting of staff, and other safety measures). Districts routinely request class size waivers, for example, when they experience high growth.