I have long been intrigued by KIPP schools and what they accomplish. As a public school teacher, I am chagrined by the way my school in particular — and my district in general — are failing our African-American and Latino students. KIPP schools work miracles, and I support them whole-heartedly.
I wonder, though, how what KIPP schools do can translate to the public schools. At a KIPP school, you go to school from 7:30 am until 5 pm, and you do 2-3 hours of homework each night (during which time your teacher is on call by phone at home), and you go to school on Saturdays. The curriculum is rigorous, which means that teachers, in addition to working all day and on Saturdays, presumably need to spend every evening and a good part of Sunday lesson planning (while fielding calls from students). How do they do it without burning out?
I want to do for my students what KIPP teachers do for theirs. However, I’m not in my 20s. I have two children I’d like to spend time with and pay attention to, and I have a marriage I’d like to enjoy and nurture. Teaching is so emotionally involving and physically exhausting that I really need time to be by myself to rest, replenish, restore.
Are the mostly young teachers at KIPP schools going to be able to keep up their grueling pace for years to come? Will they be able to fit families into their demanding schedules? And will the public schools ever be able to do what KIPP schools do if it means asking their union members to work even longer hours than they do now?