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Big Time Self-Plagiarism, Punked Web Lemmings, and Chain Gangs for All? Part 1

by Jim Horn

Part of my unpaid job is to sniff out the grisliest of educational abuses and to publicly ridicule them in ways that are reality-based, researched, honest, and entertaining. That is why I spend so much time on KIPP, which I view as the greatest threat to the possibility for humane and healthy schooling for poor children.

And if that is not enough reason to give it my top priority, then there is today's troubling coalition of both ramrod conservatives and neoliberals who embrace these segregated sweat boxes in much the same way the same unnatural allies did at about this time last century, when America became swept up in the Hitler-inspiring pseudoscience of eugenics, or How to Create a Pure and Efficient Race by Doing What is "best" for the Defectives. Ah, Race to the Top--I get it now.

What first gained popularity through county fair contests for the best examples of the whitest and healthiest babies around 1910 (complete with blue ribbon sashes) had become institutionalized by 1925 with eugenics courses offered at Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, etc. As a demonstration of a bad idea gone viral, by 1935 over 30 states in the United States of America had compulsory sterilization laws in effect for some categories of those with "defective germ plasm." In 1956, 27 states still had compulsory sterilization laws on the books. It took until 2001 for the first state legislature, Virgninia, to condemn the eugenics-inspired sterilization laws. Others followed suit 4 years ago in 2007.

Today's defectives have been identified not for their defective germ plasm, but for their equally-inheritable defective cultural traits, as the Thermstrom argument goes and that is what the No Excuses school such as KIPP and its thousands of emulators want to do: to rid poor children, urban and rural, of their defective cultures, which keep them from working hard enough and being nice enough to some day, as the Business Roundtable mantra goes, compete in the global economy. And so we have KIPP offering its one-two punch of never-ending test prep 10 hours a day, ever imbued with a junior police state regimen of behavioral neutering and psychological sterilization.

All of this self-blinkered white privileged social work to put a Band-Aid on the gaping wounds from the old slasher, Poverty, is supported vigorously by the entire School for Rigor contingent of non-educators, from Education MisTrust to the Manhattan Institute, from Bill Gates to the Koch Brothers, from Harvard U. to Liberty U., from the Center for American Progress to the John Birch Society, from W to Obama.

There is so much enthusiasm, in fact, that when a Gates-sponsored report from 2010 that lauds the work of one KIPP in Lynn, MA is upgraded with a new abstract, some new references on page 1, and a brand new date, the eager supporters a more perfect and efficient corporate state rush to report it as more scientific evidence that the culturally-denuding KIPP is great for kids, while ignoring the fact that this "new report" is just this terrific example of self-plagiarism from the highest levels (Haavard and MIT):

When plagiarism is conceptualized as theft, the notion of self-plagiarism may seem impossible. After all, one might ask: Is it possible to steal from oneself? As Hexam (1999) points out, it is possible to steal from oneself as when one engages in embezzlement or insurance fraud. In writing, self-plagiarism occurs when authors reuse their own previously written work or data in a 'new' written product without letting the reader know that this material has appeared elsewhere. According to Hexam, "... the essence of self-plagiarism is [that] the author attempts to deceive the reader".

In February 2010 this paper was published, and here is the " new paper" with new date (2011), abstract, and a few new intro elements. Everything else, even the charts that the punk'd Kevin Drum puts up at Mother Jones today, are the same ones in the 2010 report. Drum, as well as Iglesias and Kain, reference economics consultant and KIPP enthusiast, Adam Ozimek, whose enthusiasm to have Diane Ravitch get on the KIPP bandwagon will apparently go to any end.

Matthew Yglesias has this little gush after citing Ozimek:

The most scrutinized of these successful charter networks is the Knowledge Is Power Program and the latest research (PDF, via Adam Ozimek) once again shows substantial KIPP-linked gains for poor kids, especially the weakest students and special ed kids.

Hey, Matt, you reported on this same piece of research in February 2010, and if you had bothered to look at this "latest research," you would have noted that it is the same piece today as it was then.

I have more to say about Matt's and Adam's others' enthusiasms for neo-eugenic schooling, but that will come in Part II. This is already too long. We'll have to let the Committee on Publication Ethics do their thing.

— Jim Horn
Schools Matter





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