Despite lackluster results at some of its Philadelphia schools, KIPP plans to increase the number of itsschools in the city and more than double its enrollment, from 1,770 to 4,400 students. Current plans call the growth of K-12 networks of KIPP schools. Apparently, the KIPP Network will accept students in the early grades but not in middle school or high school. KIPP wants to create its “culture” and not sully it by admitting latecomers. This is not the way public schools work.

Critics complain that some KIPP schools have no better performance than public schools that are being closed. Yet KIPP grows.

“Overall, activists argue, charters may benefit some students, but that comes at the expense of many more students whose District-run schools lack needed services. This argument has been adopted by the NAACP, which has come out against charter expansion for that reason.”

The Philadelphia Schools are run by a state-controlled board called the School Reform Commission. The SRC has overseen the dismantling of public education in the city and encouraged private operators to open for business. At the same time, the state legislature has consistently underfunded the public schools, abetting the dissolution of the public school system. Historic buildings sit empty, schools are stripped of everything but bare necessities. Yet the charters thrive, favored as they are by outside philanthropy.

As the linked article shows, KIPP has had weak academic performance in its middle schools, yet it boasts that it gets a higher proportion of students into college. One reason: KIPP has college counselors but the defunded public high schools have lost their college counselors. This is a classic case of a “manufactured crisis.” KIPP grows while the public schools die.

“KIPP’s CEO, Marc Mannella, has acknowledged publicly that some of its academic indicators have been disappointing. But KIPP officials cite evidence that its schools have had success in steering students to college.

“Specifically, they say, the first 8th-grade class from KIPP’s original middle school, which graduated in 2007, boasted 35 percent of students obtaining four-year college degrees 10 years later, compared to a 9 percent rate for low-income students nationally. The result is for a cohort of 35 graduates.

“This is significant news,” said Steve Mancini, KIPP national public affairs director.

“At the time, 85 percent of KIPP’s students qualified as low income. For the two KIPP schools with available data today, 59 percent are low-income.

“He emphasized that the KIPP Through College initiative offers all its 8th-grade graduates personalized counseling and support in preparing for college and that the assistance persists through at least the first year.

“This is a big attraction for parents,” said Mancini, especially in a school district where counselors have felt the budget ax.”

So, KIPP offers college counseling but the college counselors in public schools fell to the budget ax. Any connection?

The original class in fifth grade had 86 fifth-graders in 2003-04. By eighth grade, only 33 were left (not 35). Twelve of the original 85 graduated college, a rate of 13% of the original cohort (thank you, Gary Rubinstein, for tracking down the numbers).

KIPP will receive a huge management fee–12%–which enables it to provide the services that have been stripped from public schools.

“KIPP Philadelphia’s own management fee is 12 percent of all state and local revenue designated for the school, according to the Charter Schools Office’s evaluation. That would start at more than $307,000, then balloon to more than $1.3 million annually by year five, when KIPP Parkside is expected to be at full enrollment. The charter office called this fee “high in comparison to other Philadelphia [Charter Management Organizations].” Typical charter management fees range from 8 to 10 percent.

“The fee paid to KIPP Philadelphia goes to support services such as “recruiting and training new teachers, developing and implementing curriculum, overseeing instruction, creating and analyzing student assessments, finding and maintaining school facilities.”

The public schools of Philadelphia have been starved of funding and victimized by state control. An elected board would feel accountable to the vast majority of parents, rather than curtsy to private contractors and give them whatever they want, at the expense of the majority of students whose schools have been raided of funding.