Monday, October 12, 2009

Perpetuating the Myth

Chris Lehmann:

But the bigger question is -- why does the media insist on perpetuating this storyline? Let's take the KIPP schools as an example... there is now enough evidence to suggest that KIPP schools have a high level of attrition... and while there doesn't yet seem to be research to define exactly why that is happening, we can assume that not every student who left KIPP or Ginn Academy (or SLA, for that matter) left because their families moved... some students left because they weren't having success.

How different would the current educational conversation be if the KIPP folks said, "Yes... in some of our schools, 25-40% of the families choose to leave KIPP, but KIPP isn't for everyone, and for the students who stay, we do right by them?" What if these schools admitted that it would be much harder to have the success they have if they didn't have the traditional schools to send kids back to when it didn't work out? What if these schools admitted they didn't have all the answers, and instead had to admit that, yes, they do amazing things for many students, but they haven't figured out how to get to a significant percentage of their population, despite Herculean efforts?

Why isn't that the dialogue right now? Because it's not as easy to raise millions of dollars on "We're figuring it out too?" But that would only explain one piece of that puzzle... why is it that Jay Matthews, the New York Times, the Education Empowerment Project, the US DoE and so many others so willing to promote a myth?

Because it is easier... because if we could only believe that we could solve all the problems of educating students in poverty with charismatic school leaders and hard working teachers... and that all the kids who don't get the education they need are simply being underserved by those lazy teachers... that would absolve our society for not being more just, more equitable, more fair. We could point to those schools that succeed against all odds and say, "See... if they do it, every school should be able to do it." It is a myth that keeps us from really understanding what is necessary to solve the problems for the children of our cities. It is the myth of the schools that have solved the problems.

No comments: