Testimony of Karel Kilimnik to the Board of Education, October 17, 2019

Good evening. I urge the Board to deny Item 29 MOU with KIPP when it comes up for a vote next month. The MOU states that KIPP Philadelphia is partnering with the School District to share its resources; actually, it’s a product they are marketing called College Match Strategies. The Neubauer Family Foundation covers costs for the first year however Chief of Schools Shawn Bird told Board members at last week’s Student Achievement and Support Committee that the District would pay for any extension..  KIPP is looking to spread its brand further into Philadelphia, and one way to do it under the radar is as a “gift” to the District. KIPP is looking to get its foot into the door to be able to then spread itself throughout our District from within.

KIPP is one of the original No Excuses Charter Schools where there is a harsh behavior code for students. KIPP ‘s founders were two white middle class Teach for America alum who decided they knew how to teach low income black and brown children. They focused on shouting chants, drilling what they considered to be positive character traits (since in their view these children needed to be fixed), making children earn an actual chair to sit at a desk, and shaming children who did not conform to their rules. They forced the non conforming children into the Personal Improvement Plan and conscripted them into a designated space with less comfortable chairs. They had to write letters of apology to their classmates for whatever rule they had broken. Is this a school that anyone sitting in front of us would send your child or grandchild to?

Clothing magnate and GAP founder, Don Fisher who was chairman of the KIPP board firmly believed that education is a business and a school is not much different from a GAP store . The Fisher Foundation has given over $90 million to KIPP. (pg 3, Work Hard, Be Hard by Jim Horn).

Our students need extra counselors not a product marketed by a charter management company. The Board should focus on building the District from within not  contracting with outside vendors and charter schools marketing a product.

I have emailed every Board member reading material about KIPP schools to help inform your decision.