KIPP’s Camden Application and Special Education

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My piece today at WHYY Newsworks examines KIPP’s application to the Camden School Board to open several charter schools under the auspices of the Urban Hope Act. In particular, I look at the application’s emphasis on special education, which points to entrenched problems in serving these kids in Camden’s traditional schools.

KIPP’s application to the Camden looks pretty bland on the surface: mostly facilities and budget planning material. But one third of the opening section is devoted to special education, a tightly regulated arena governed by state and federal law that mandates that all public schools provide special needs students with appropriate support and services.

The reason for this emphasis on special education is significant. While here’s a widespread belief that charter schools discourage enrollment of students with disabilities, KIPP argues that, in fact, the organization welcomes special needs kids. This commitment is especially relevant to Camden Public Schools, which has a dismal track record of accurately labeling students and serving those who are eligible for services.

Read the whole thing here.

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