Home > Uncategorized > Given the Choice Between Home Depot and the Local Hardware Store… or KIPP and the Local Public School

Given the Choice Between Home Depot and the Local Hardware Store… or KIPP and the Local Public School

June 20, 2018

Diane Ravitch posted a heartwarming story yesterday about how two predominantly African American public schools in San Francisco are outdoing their privatized counterpart, KIPP, the national chain that touts its high test scores and tough discipline. The 5th graders at one of the schools, Malcolm X, outscored the 5th graders at KIPP on the standardized tests used for accountability purposes. The other school, Carver, a partnership with Umoja, a group that works with African American young boys at recess and after school, has resulted in a marked decline in discipline issues and an increase in math scores. What do Carver and Malcolm X have in common? Parent engagement, community partnerships, the provision of an array of social services under the roof of the school, and robust co- and extra-curricular offerings. Given the “choice” between a cookie-cutter factory school and a customized academic environment that is networked with the community, it is unsurprising where parents want to see their children go.

Ms. Ravitch analogized KIPP to Walmart, describing it as “…the Walmart of charter schools, opening in communities where they are not wanted and destroying local public schools where parents are heard.” I think that a better analogy is Home Depot, who, like Walmart, is willing to crush small local businesses. But Walmart often provides remote communities with comprehensive purchasing options in small communities that are otherwise absent altogether making it impossible for small niche stores to compete because local people find the allure of one-stop shopping too strong. If Walmart took over schooling they might incorporate social services, dental and medical services, and mental health providers under one roof. A case could be made that Carver and Malcolm X are using a variant of the Walmart model in their approach to incorporating a wide range of services under one roof… an approach that I contend more public schools should take. Home Depot, on the other hand, would just obliterate the small local hardware stores and local construction supply companies and replace them with a big box store that requires contractors and homeowners to drive a few miles further to get crappy service and less customization.

Both Walmart and Home Depot and stores of their ilk are ultimately evil because they undercut the local economy and the local identity of communities. When the ownership is remote and the shareholders are more interested in profits than community building one can expect small towns and cities to trade empty storefronts for low prices… and the result is the kind of alienation we are encountering today.

Here’s the bottom line: If you want to keep the small stores afloat and your community strong… but local and support your local public schools.

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