KIPP the converter?

Philadelphia superintendent Arlene Ackerman hopes to reform the city's most troubled schools by converting them into charters--and KIPP's on the short list to help. Ackerman "really [likes] their model" and KIPP Philadelphia CEO Marc Mannella feels confident they will "be able to fit somewhere in this plan." But will all this brotherly love make up for KIPP's inexperience in the field? Conversions are notoriously tough (see here and here), and KIPP's record in the area is decidedly weak. It's no wonder, since a conversion will mean KIPP has to change the very model that makes it so successful: starting in fifth grade and carefully adding one grade per year thereafter. On the other hand, an organization like Philly-grown Mastery Charter Schools--another Ackerman favorite, with three successful conversions under its belt--might be the better suited for the job. We appreciate KIPP's dedication to the students in Philly, but sticking to what it does best is a better bet than wasting resources in an area that's not its forte.

"Charter operators see opportunity in district restructuring," by Martha Woodall, Philadelphia Inquirer, March 12, 2009