It seems to be getting little public attention that the principal of the KIPP school in Fresno has resigned after a lengthy school district report accused him of:
... slamming students against the wall, placing trash cans over their heads, forcing kids to crawl on their hands and knees while barking, and enforcing unreasonably strict bathroom rules, resulting in students having accidents and vomiting on themselves inside the classroom.
In keeping with the typical press swooning over the national charter-school chain, the press accounts (so far all very short and local to Fresno) mostly lead with the student protests calling on the principal, Chi Tschang, to stay in the job. The lead from KPMH Fox Ch. 26:
Students and parents lined the streets outside the KIPP Academy in Fresno, outraged over the recent and sudden resignation of their principal Mr. Chi Tsichang (sic).
If I were a journalist covering the protests, I think I would be asking a few more questions than the Fresno press seems inclined to about these students' support for the principal.
KIPP is getting extra attention right now because of the publication of a high-profile new book about it, Work Hard. Be Nice. by Washington Post/Newsweek education columnist Jay Mathews, the nation's most visible education journalist and an unabashed KIPP enthusiast.
The Post itself has quite an intelligent review of Mathews' book, actually in tomorrow's paper, by education researcher/author Richard D. Kahlenberg. The excerpt below struck me as particularly perceptive, especially compared to the unquestioning cheerleading KIPP generally gets in the press. Yet the description of the alleged abuse by the Fresno KIPP principal does belie the notion that KIPP schools are anything like middle-class schools.
KIPP schools more closely resemble middle-class than high-poverty public schools. KIPP does not educate the typical low-income student but rather a subset fortunate enough to have striving parents who take the initiative to apply to a KIPP school and sign a contract agreeing to read to their children at night. More important, among those who attend KIPP, 60 percent leave, according to a new study of California schools, many because they find the program too rigorous. As KIPP's reputation grew, it could select among the best teachers (who wish to be around high-performing colleagues), and it became funded at levels more like those of middle-class schools.