The KIPP model goes to college

The City University of New York’s experimental New Community College, which will have more resources, structure and paternalism, resembles KIPP’s model for charter schools, writes Richard Kahlenberg in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Like KIPP, the New Community College mixes conservative and liberal approaches.

. . . students must submit to “mandatory full-time enrollment for the first year, mandatory and frequent tutoring and counseling … and very little choice in classes.”  Indeed, (New York Times reporter Richard) Perez-Pena writes, “all students will take the same classes for the first year,” with the exception of math, which is divided into two sections.  Like KIPP, which has a long school year, the New Community College requires that “before students can start any classes, they must attend a bridge program spread over three weeks in August.”

At the same time, the New Community College lets all students start in for-credit classes with embedded basic skills instruction.

KIPP invests in its students. New Community College also will devote more resources to students’ success, more than $30,000 per student in the first year compared to $10,000 at the average CUNY two-year college.

Of course, KIPP primarily runs middle schools. Kahlenberg worries about dictating courses for young adults.

I’ve been reading Andrew Delbanco’s College: What It Is, Was, and Should Be, and am struck by his aspiration that college be “an aid to reflection, a place and process whereby young people take stock of their talents and passions and begin to sort out their lives in a way that is true to themselves and responsible to others.”  When a curriculum is almost entirely prescribed, I wonder whether the process of discovering talents and passions is stunted.

Still, it makes sense to experiment, he concludes. Nationwide, 81.4 percent of first-time community college students say they want to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree, yet only 11.6 percent reach their goal.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 3, 2012

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I see a connection between Kahenberg’s worry about being to prescriptive with students who should be learning to make their own decisions (and I share that worry), and the report that 81% of first time CC students say they want to attain a 4-year degree. My sense (based on many family members) is that a good proportion of those students say they aspire to a 4-year degree because that is what’s expected of them, whether they actually have a career goal in mind that requires a 4-year degree or not. We are awfully prescriptive in our expectations of these students when we even dictate their goals.

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