Monday, December 06, 2010

Comment on Jonathan Kozol

Speaking of rebutting, here's one of the folks on this email list with a comment on what Jonathan Kozol had to say recently (see:


As someone who grew up, then taught blocks from KIPP Academy in the South Bronx, I find Kozol's comments sickening. He should know better. Sadly he had inspired so many to join the movement. If he wanted to make the case that KIPP is economically segregated -- then he has to do so against the free & reduced lunch numbers (80.8% eligible in 2009-10 for KIPP Bronx according to, less than others in the neighborhood, but not greatly so. I taught at a nearby public school, we also helped parents get free glasses -- if they have Child Health Plus, it's free -- and helped parents buy clean uniforms, coats, and backpacks (even gave away full Thanksgiving dinners in staged "raffles"). It's what a school has to do in the South Bronx -- it's par for the course. He (and we) should be offended about anything less.

Some day we also need to ask the question: So what if charter schools are economically segregated? So what if they are creaming (even though they are not)? I went from crappy schools in the South Bronx, to the Bronx High School of Science -- a school that is segregated, and as a magnet exists to educate the top.  And it's good at what it does, pushing us to incredible levels. What's wrong with a child's right to get an education and not have to worry about their safety? What's wrong with talented kids getting a high quality education? What's wrong with giving the middle class in a neighborhood a reason to stay and improve their communities rather than leave in search of better educational opportunities for their kids -- like my family, which moved to Long Island when I went to college, so my younger brother could attend a better high school. Better schools -- creaming, segregated and all -- can lead to wonderfully positive neighborhood effects.  I won't go so far as to discuss the possibility that any marginal differences may be due to those neighborhood effects of better schools, the discourse is just too far from that.

Thanks for getting me excited about Cathie Black and Shael Polakow-Suransky's tenure, looking forward to it now.

Steven Francisco
President, Innovation Teaching

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