Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is in a rush to now dumb down education in New Zealand even though New Zealand and Australia have higher international test scores than the US and the majority of other nations.

KIPP is trying to worm their way into New Zealand using the same old phrasing such as “failing schools” and “ineffective teachers” and pushing the idea of hiring “unregistered” (cheap) staff to populate charter schools.

PAA member Karran Harper-Royal

See the TV New Zealand’s program The Hard Sell of Charter Schools featuring Parents Across America board member Karran Harper-Royal and Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP.

Fortunately in New Zealand they are having an open national debate on charter schools something that never happened in the United States where venture capitalists made up their minds about what was best for our students and in a stealth like fashion went about privatizing our public schools.

To read a description of the debate that is taking place in New Zealand, see: For Clearer Charter School Policy Debate, Look to New Zealand.

Here are two excerpts:

Based on her experience in her home city of New Orleans (where regular schools were replaced by charter schools after Hurricane Katrina), Karran Harper Royal of Parents Across America offers a bleak vision of the future if the partnership schools proposal goes forward in Christchurch: “Schools want the better students so their test scores stay high and they don’t get shut. That makes it difficult for those with special needs who may not be as high performing, and it’s a problem when you’re trying to find a school that will just do a good job educating your child, because schools don’t want students who are the hardest to educate…Expect families constantly moving children, schools that aren’t much better than before, expect to spend more money because you’re duplicating services, and expect companies to decide how schools should operate instead of the community.”

In the U.S., we haven’t had this national debate. Rather, openness to charter schools has slid into national policy through the “Race to the Top” program plus the charter-focused Promise Neighborhoods projects and some incentive financing structures for charter schools offered by the Education Department. Without all the social entrepreneurship folderol, a solid national policy debate on the costs and benefits of charter schools in the U.S. would be welcome. We’ll monitor New Zealand’s debate as a substitute.

Getting back to KIPP, Mike Feinberg signed up for TFA, Inc. in 1992, straight out of college, and taught for about a year. In 1994 he founded what would soon be the charter school franchise KIPP with no degree in education or experience teaching beyond his one year or so of being a TFA, Inc. recruit. He did go back later, in 2005, and gained a Masters in Education at National-Louis University, 11 years after the fact.

The KIPP co-founders and their supporters now continually talk about how their students have high test scores and exceedingly high graduation rates. That’s because they skim students and counsel out those students who do not “perform” up to their standards. See: Bay Area KIPP schools lose 60% of their students, study confirms and Study Finds High Dropout Rates for Black Males in KIPP Schools

Also at KIPP, unlike a public school, the students take an entrance exam. As reported by Caroline Grannan, founding member of Parents Across America:

After a happy KIPP parent posted on our local San Francisco Schools listserve that his daughter had “tested into” KIPP San Francisco Bay Academy, I also started the application process at that school for my then-7th-grader, to confirm whether it required a test, which it did.

KIPP says the test is used to determine the applicant’s academic grade level, not to determine who gets in. But even if that’s true, the test requirement clearly selects for students who are compliant enough to sit for a test (at grades 5 and up, kids are quite capable of refusing); for families and students who aren’t traumatized by tests and feel capable enough to take one; and for families who are motivated enough to go through that multi-step application process. And, of course, the happy KIPP parent clearly felt that his child was admitted based on her test results.

So now, let’s connect some dots.

As I was taking a look at Feinberg, his connections and his background, I came across the fact that he is on the advisory board for NCTQ.

Remember when NCTQ came into town a few years ago with their dog and pony show sponsored by the Alliance for Education, referring to teachers as human capitol as well as introducing the notion of merit pay, high stakes testing and “teacher effectiveness”? For a refresher, see The NCTQ Report: The Alliance and the NCTQ Study.

That was our introduction to education reform in Seattle. What I had noticed later is that NCTQ would go into towns and cities across the US and do the same show, and then suddenly there would be legislation or other activity working towards the privatization of our schools. For us, it was the introduction to the teachers’ union negotiations that the ed reform crowd led by the League of Education Voters (LEV) wanted to get into. They wanted to lead the charge on eliminating “ineffective teachers” and institute the notion of merit pay based on high stakes testing.

As I stated in The Battle for Seattle, Part  4:

That same year, the NCTQ came to town hosted by the Alliance for Education. All you need to do is Google NCTQ to see that their arrival in towns and cities around the US is the first shot across the bow in terms of the introduction of ed reform to that school district or state. The NCTQ is about teacher evaluations and their reports become the basis for the introduction of evaluating teachers based on student performance also termed merit pay or performance pay. NCTQ receives money from Gates by way of TR3. That year NCTQ also received money from the Alliance for Education. NCTQ and TR3 refer to teachers as “Human Capitol”. That pretty much sums up how they, including Gates and Broad for that matter, view education and educators in general.

The report that they did put everything in motion in terms of beginning the attack on our local teachers union. The superintendent was to go into negotiations with the teachers the following year and the NCTQ report was the opening salvo.

Now, let’s see who else is on this “advisory board” for NCTQ.

Wendy Kopp, CEO and Founder of Teach for America, Inc. (TFA, Inc.)

Joel Klein, previous Chancellor of NYC schools and now Rupert Murdoch’s lead man into the financial foray of “digital learning”.

Michelle Rhee,  Founder and CEO  of StudentsFirst

Paul T. Hill, Director Center for Reinventing Public Education

I am sure there are others out there who can connect a few more dots for me in terms of this advisory board but suffice it to say for now that the NCTQ reports ARE the introduction to the privatization of our schools and this organization marches into a town, city or school district and begins what they term “a conversation” which is no conversation at all because it is the beginning of a well orchestrated takeover of public schools one district at a time.

This organization waves as their banner basically the same report from sea to shining sea, which can also be found on the Gates Foundation website, BEST PRACTICES FOR TEACHER EFFECTIVENESS, and lays the groundwork for the enterprises of TFA, Inc., KIPP and others.