Sunday, September 04, 2011

KIPP Raices

Jerry's story of the insanity of the Blob reminds me of this story that I sent around a couple of years ago after visiting KIPP Raices elementary school in LA (


This story perfectly captures the horrors of big-city school system bureaucracies.  It was told to me by Amber Young (I'm sharing it with her permission), the awesome school leader of the first KIPP elementary school in LA, KIPP Raices (see 16 photos below from my visit to Raices and LA Prep; all of my photos from my recent charter school visits are posted at:


Eight years ago or so, Amber was a first-year TFA corps member at your typical failing school in Compton.  There was a great principal, however, and she quickly identified Amber as not only a great teacher, but also someone with leadership potential so by the end of her second year, Amber was effectively the Deputy Principal (though she didn't have that title officially and was still teaching).  Thanks to great efforts by the two of them (along with Angela Martinez, another TFAer who was in the adjacent classroom to Amber and now runs KIPP LA Prep -- see photos below), the school started to turn around and by Amber and Angela's fourth year, the school was the only one in Compton to win a coveted statewide award.


Then, the principal went on maternity leave, Amber became the Interim Principal and the school continued to do well.  Then, the principal decided not to come back from maternity leave, so you'd think Amber would be made the official Principal, right?


HA!  You're forgetting that what's best for kids always takes a back seat to bureaucratic rules/imperatives, no matter how insane.  It turns out that there was a policy that requires five years of teaching experience before one can become a principal -- and Amber only had four -- so she would have to be demoted to being a teacher and do this for a year before she could become Principal again.


People like Amber have very little patience for nonsense like this, so she approached KIPP -- which of course grabbed her.  Once she told Compton Unified that she was leaving, they backpedaled and offered to make an exception to the policy for her, but it was too late...


You know the ending, of course: the school she left has sunk back to mediocrity, victimizing yet another generation of children...


I'm delighted that Amber is at KIPP, but stories like this make my blood boil...

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