Chancellor Rhee, Charter Schools, KIPP, and Other Thoughts

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Recently, Chancellor Michelle Rhee of the District of Columbia Public Schools system has been creating quite a stir.  Her pay for performance plans and overall reforms to the DCPS have riled feathers and created a backlash, even as she has struggled to put her ideas into practice.  At the heart of those ideas is a desire by both Ms. Rhee and the mayor's office to improve DC's schools--and most parents are similarly motivated.  However, DC's school system has become much of a patronage system over the past twenty years, and many people have much to lose if the game were to change.  At the same time, Chancellor Rhee is somewhat unproven.  Her ideas have a nice free-market ring to them, but it may prove to be a daunting challenge to put them into practice.

For example, while many charter schools have shown great results with children of all ages--the KIPP (http://www.kipp.org) academies are a shining example of the potential available for new teaching techniques and highly trained, devoted staff--the KIPP foundation and most charter schools have proven it difficult to scale in a cost effective manner (though commenter John at http://www.eduwonk.com/2009/02/kipped-3.html claims that KIPP can scale).  Certainly, putting higher-paid and better-trained staff in controlled environments with students whose parents are motivated can improve the prospects of the children educated there.

But how can these ideas be replicated inexpensively? Part of the answer is technology--more distributed, effective online learning.  Part of the answer is administration--better school and school system management.  And part of the answer is more parental involvement--the schools can't parent and teach.

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This page contains a single entry by Hank Cathey published on February 5, 2009 3:29 PM.

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