Friday, December 7

Everyone deserves a Carribbean workation

Other than Alexander Russo, am I the only one who isn't totally repulsed by the Carribbean vacations that KIPP Academy Charter School staff members took in the last two years? The papers, the state comptroller, and bloggers are up in arms about the $70,000 spent on trips of only moderate educational benefit, and KIPP says it is putting into place tighter internal controls to prevent similar uses of funds in the future. But if, as the school claims, the funds really came from private sources, not the state, is it so bad that KIPP holds some of its professional development on the beach?

KIPP teachers work long hours (often 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.), teach on weekends, and give out their cell phone numbers to their kids. Their hard work seems to pay off for their students (although some dispute the evenness of the field they're playing on). As KIPP founder Dave Levin, who attended the retreats, told the Post, creative rewards are required to keep teachers motivated. A system that struggles with teacher retention should appreciate Levin's attitude, if not the particular reward KIPP offers.

When teachers leave the profession after only one or two years, it's destabilizing for schools and expensive for the system. But when they, like career-changing Teaching Fellow Robert Pondiscio or Bronx blogging teacher Ms. Frizzle, hit a wall or begin "teaching on the ledge" after half a dozen years, schools lose their most valuable teachers. The public wants its teachers to be highly educated, hardworking, and constantly improving. If there's no cost to the kids, why not spend a few bucks to keep teachers happy?

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