Let’s fight together for equitable education, rather than against each other for scraps

By Marcia Aaron and Richard Buery Jr.

Debates pitting traditional against charter public schools are deeply counterproductive.

Those arguing want the same thing – a great education for all children. Unfortunately, the recent opinion piece “Students Need Properly Resourced Schools, Not Gimmicks Like Charters” by Glenn Sacks spreads false information specific to the KIPP School Network so we are choosing to address his misguided claims.

Our hope, however, is that in the future this argument is laid to rest and energy is instead focused on partnered advocacy for educational equity because we all believe that students need properly resourced schools. California is currently ranked 41st among the 50 states in per-pupil funding despite being the fifth-largest economy in the world. KIPP SoCal would welcome the opportunity to partner with organizations such as United Teachers Los Angeles to pass legislation that puts students first.

Sacks argues that charter schools participate in student selection practices that contribute to increased academic performance. Specifically, he cites Welner’s finding that the KIPP network “extensively” uses grade retention to push out lower-performing students, or “raw materials” as Welner crassly refers to them. That is simply untrue.

Our motto is that “all of us will learn,” and it is insulting to propose that we would purposefully fail a student so that our academic results increase. An independent study of KIPP by Mathematica Policy Research found that the “rate of overall attrition from KIPP schools is approximately equivalent, on average, to the attrition rate from district schools.” KIPP’s attrition rates for black students, black male students, Hispanic students, and students eligible for free or reduced-price meals was significantly lower than district schools. Further, the grade retention rate at KIPP SoCal in the 2018-19 school year was only 0.6 percent, despite new students joining our schools at an average of 2 to 3 grades below grade level.

Next, Sacks describes KIPP requiring “students and their families to commit to longer school days” as though it’s a bad thing.

Our extended school day provides additional opportunities for students to learn, grow, and succeed. Longer days allow us to focus on core subjects like math and English language arts so that students reach or exceed grade level, while also providing instruction on science, foreign language, and character development.

To read the rest of the opinion piece go to Los Angeles Daily News.

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