3.4 KIPP... The Kids in Prison Program

How KIPP Charter Schools Use CIA Torture Techniques to Abuse Children

The Start of KIPP Charter Schools
KIPP charter schools started in Houston in 1994 by a couple of “Teach for America” graduates – Mike Feinbery and David Levin - two people with no degree in education or child development with only a 6 week “TFA” course under their belt – and a desire to make a profit off of children.

02Due to massive funding from Bill Gates and his billionaire buddies, KIPP has grown to be among the largest and richest charter school chain in America. For example, in 2009, the Gates Foundation guaranteed $30 million in KIPP bonds so that KIPP could expand its operations. The KIPP network now includes 130 charter schools in 20 states with more than 50,000 students. Bill Gates has given KIPP more than $27 million dollars including $10 million just in 2006!

In addition, KIPP has received $50 million from the US Department of Education.

KIPP- The Kids in Prison Program
KIPP stands for “Knowledge is Power Program.” But as the kids themselves have concluded, it really stands for “Kids in Prison Program.”

KIPP students attend school 9 hours a day and every other Saturday... and also a big part of the summer. Compare this to public schools where kids only attend school 7 hours a day and not at all on weekends. Goodbye weekends and goodbye summer vacation. So much for a happy carefree childhood. It's sad for children to get so little free time. You are only young once. And shockingly, at some KIPP schools, students even have to earn the right to sit at a desk! Here is a quote from a former KIPP teacher: "...during the first week of school 100 fifth-graders were packed into a single classroom without desks, where they sat the entire class time Monday through Thursday learning to earn the right to sit in a desk...It was treating them like animals. Only they weren’t animals. They were children.“ http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=4679

Speaking of treating children like animals, consider classroom management. At one KIPP school in California, a KIPP principal told a student to get on his hands and knees and bark like a dog. The same principal put a garbage can on another student's head implying that the student was no better than a sack of garbage.  Using shame to control children seems to be the norm at KIPP. A teacher described what happened during high stakes testing time. Many students were not allowed to use the bathroom. This resulted in some students wetting their pants. Also to raise high stakes test scores, students' test answers were reviewed by teachers, and then students were given their tests back and told which answers to correct. (That is one way to increase test scores.) http://www.markgarrison.net/archives/62

At another KIPP school, small children would be deprived of recess for infractions as small as turning their head around and failing to look at the teacher. Eventually, trouble making children who failed to keep silent and keep their eyes on the teacher either dropped out or were expelled. No individuality is permitted at Kipp and anyone who does not toe the line is ridiculed, punished and/or expelled. This is why an independent three year study of KIPP schools found they have an extremely high attrition rate. Out of every 100 students, more than 60 either drop out or are expelled within three years.

An attrition rate of 60% is 10 times more than the attrition rate at a normal public school!

Bad for Kids and Bad for Teachers
More than half of the teachers quit KIPP schools every year. This is in part because KIPP pays teachers less than real public schools pay real teachers – despite the fact that KIPP teachers work much longer hours than normal teachers. KIPP schools also use a lot of Teach For America teachers. TFA teachers have no training and do not intend to keep working as “teachers” for more than a year or two. According to the KIPP website, one in three KIPP teachers is from TFA. In fact, the leader of KIPP, Richard Barth, is married to the leader of TFA, Wendy Kopp. So fraud and corruption run in the family.

The extremely high teacher attrition rate is also due to the fact that teachers can't stand the abuse and torture that KIPP subjects children to. For example, 5 year olds who do not obey have been put into padded cells. According to their parents, 5 year old children were repeatedly placed in this cell for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

“He was crying hysterically,” said Teneka Hall, 28, a Washington Heights mom whose son, Xavier, was rushed to the hospital after he panicked and wet himself while he was holed up in the padded room. “It’s no way to treat a child.”

Other KIPP schools/prisons, that lack a padded room, use a humiliating style of punishment called “The Bench” to shame small children into keeping quiet. In KIPP schools, kindergartners are shamed and ridiculed for things as innocent as turning their head or chatting with their classmates. Kids/inmates are expected to remain silent for up to 9 hours a day. If a child fails to toe the line, they are taken off of the team for up to two days, isolated and forced to wear a bench sticker. They must eat lunch away from the rest of the team and are keep in detention for an extra hour after school. To get back on the team, they must write a letter of apology and also make a verbal apology at a team meeting. Repeated offenses result in expulsion.

“Those who resisted the rules or were slackers wore a large sign pinned to their clothes labeled "miscreant." Miscreants sat apart from the others at all times including lunch, were denied recess and participation in all other school projects and events. Here we see a young girl on a bench at KIPP school with a sign around her neck that says "CRETIN." Her crime was “chatting” in class.

Other KIPP Schools Send Trouble Makers to the Basement
Here is a quote about this tactic: “On VIB (Visitor in Building) days, at least one KIPP school puts up to 30 problem students in the empty basement for hours until the visiting investors or politicians have left the building.  Also during this time, no class changes occur, even though visits might last three hours.  Children are, in essence, in lock down mode in their classrooms so that no infraction or non-compliant behavior during class change may be seen by outsiders.”

What teachers and child development experts say about KIPP schools
Here is what a couple of teachers said about KIPP: “I've spent many years in schools. KIPP felt like a low security prison or something resembling a locked-down drug rehab program.”

Childhood education expert, Deb Meier called this “military style” discipline aimed at “humiliating kids into compliance.” http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2013/12/kipps-long-record-of-child-abuse-must.html

“Any system that demands of children that they give up their childhood as a condition for success, which KIPP does, should not be entertained as a viable education intervention. KIPP is education reform on the cheap, where economy is more important than the children who are sacrificed through the unethical excess that we turn our backs to. There are humane ways to run schools and increase academic achievement at the same time. KIPP is not one of them.”

Another KIPP teacher said: “I was a teacher at a KIPP school for 1 /1/2 years. It was the most horrible experience of my life. The teachers and students are literally in school for 11 hours a day. I saw numerous teachers experience nervous breakdowns from the extreme pressure and harassment of administration. There was a 50% turnover for staff each year.”

Another former KIPP teacher agreed: “I worked at a KIPP school for over a year and saw exactly what the first writer saw. Teachers were bullied and harassed by the school leader living in fear if they spoke up. Students with special needs were not accommodated. The turnover with staff is huge. Two teachers had nervous breakdowns over the stress. Students were under constant control and no freedom of expression. Chants and a cult mentality permeated the school. KIPP robs children of their childhood. Most KIPP teachers in our building were not qualified. Student achievement was very poor. It was a nightmare, beware. “

KIPP College Graduation claims turn out to be nonsense
One common claim to justify all of the child abuse is that 80% of Kipp students go on to college. With 30,000 students, this would imply that 24,000 of them went to college. However, according to the KIPP website, so far only 447 (less than 2%) have gone to college. No word yet about how many have completed college.

No School Board, No Reporting, No Transparency
Go to the KIPP website and you will find their annual report – which is really more of a marketing brochure than a report. It does not list how much is paid to administrators versus teachers or really where any of the tax payer funds have gone. There are no school board minutes or any process for parents to be involved in decision making. It does not list how much is spent per child or the transfers in or out of the program. By comparison, any public school district has a website detailing where every dollar was spent and lists minutes of past school board meetings and when the next school board meeting will be held. The lack of transparency at KIPP ought to offend not just any parent, but any tax payer.

Bill Gates Loves KIPP (just not for his kids)
According to Billionaire Bill: “KIPP is one of the most promising examples of innovative thinking in American education. I find it stunning that the educational schools are not training teachers to use the KIPP way of teaching classes.“
Bill Gates January 21 2010

Bill claims we need the KIPP Child Prison program because American public schools are broken and do not do well on international test scores. Yet whenever one adjusts for childhood poverty, American schools do as well as or better than any other schools in the world. For example, two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years. The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower.

Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this. The problem is not public schools; it is poverty. And the true cause of poverty is that all the wealth in America is concentrated in the hands of a few billionaires. Public Schools are not the problem – the real problem is billionaires like Bill Gates.

Comparing KIPP to the School Where Bill Gates Sends His Kids
Bill Gates sends his three kids to a private school in Seattle called Lakeside where the annual tuition is $28,500 and where the teacher student ratio is 9 students per teacher and no students are locked in a closet just for having talked during class. Lakeside has no high stakes tests, no Common Core Curriculum and plenty of respect for caring experienced teachers. Our public schools should be more like Lakeside, the private school in Seattle where Bill's kids go and have small class sizes and academic freedom to explore their potential – not like the KIPP schools Bill wants to subject our children to.

Learned Helplessness- How KIPP Schools are related to CIA Torture
(We know this section might be hard to believe. It was hard for us to write. We include the links so you can do your own research.)

One of the two psychologists on whom KIPP bases its strict discipline approach is Martin Seligman. Here he is listed on the KIPP website: http://www.kipp.org/our-approach/character

KIPP claims that Martin Seligman came up with the idea for “Seven Strengths.” The 7 Strengths include things like having determination and true grit. However, there is a back story to Martin Seligman's work in psychology and how it relates to the methods used by KIPP to shame and control children. It is a horrifying story all parents considering sending their kids to KIPP should be aware of. Unfortunately, Mr. Seligman, who is the inspiration for KIPP schools, was also the inspiration for the CIA Torture program at Guantanamo Bay. We now know that no useful intelligence was gained by torturing prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. The CIA Torture Program, which was finally exposed by the US Senate, can be read at this link: http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy1.pdf
But as you are about to see, this torture program is still the hidden basis of KIPP's unique style of disciplining and shaming small children.

The Story Begins...Martin Seligman tortures dogs and discovers “learned helplessness”n the 1960's Martin Seligman did research subjecting caged dogs to random severe electric shocks as a way to break the will of the dog. He called his method of training dogs “learned helplessness.” From the article, “How Seligman's Learned Helplessness Theory Applies to Human Depression and Stress”:
“...he would ring a bell and then give a light shock to a dog. After a number of times, the dog reacted to the shock even before it happened: as soon as the dog heard the bell, he reacted as though he'd already been shocked.

But then something unexpected happened. Seligman put each dog into a large crate that was divided down the middle with a low fence. The dog could see and jump over the fence if necessary. The floor on one side of the fence was electrified, but not on the other side of the fence. Seligman put the dog on the electrified side and administered a light shock. He expected the dog to jump to the non-shocking side of the fence. Instead, the dogs lay down. It was as though the small dog learned from the first part of the experiment that there was nothing they could do to avoid the shocks, so they gave up...

Seligman described their condition as learned helplessness, or not trying to get out of a negative situation because the past has taught you that you are helpless.”


How Seligman got involved with human torture
According to the Senate report on torture, released in December 2014, we know that two psychologists were paid a total of $82 million from 2002 to 2006 to design and run the Guantanamo Bay CIA Torture Program. (See page 11 of the Senate Report). Here is the link to this 500 page report: http://www.intelligence.senate.gov/study2014/sscistudy1.pdf

The two psychologists, referred to by pseudonyms Grayson Swigert and Hammond Dunbar in the Senate torture report, were James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/09/1350587/-Properly-Recognizing-The-Crimes-of-Drs-Bruce-Jessen-and-James-Mitchell

Mitchell and Jessen reportedly got their ideas on reducing the self esteem of prisoners and creating a sense of learned helplessness from Martin Seligman and the way he tortured helpless dogs.

Seligman's alarming journey from psychologist working with learned helplessness to his connection with the CIA was revealed in a 2011 book written by law professor and ethics expert M. Gregg Bloche (current co-director for the Georgetown-Johns Hopkins Joint Program in Law and Public Health). In Chapter 7 and 8 of his book, The Hypocratic Myth, Bloche described a meeting between Martin Seligman and James Mitchell during the crucial period when Mitchell was involved with setting up the CIA torture program. Seligman had met both James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen in December 2001 and May 2002.

In his book, Bloche writes that Seligman admitted being invited by the CIA to speak at a May 2002 conference before an audience that included CIA psychologists Mitchell and Jessen: “[Seligman] acknowledged only that he spoke on learned helplessness at a JPRA meeting in May 2002 and that Mitchell and Jessen were in the audience: “I was invited to speak about how American… personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors. This is what I spoke about.””

Bloche goes on to describe another meeting between the CIA psychologists and Seligman: “... in the spring of 2002, according to a CIA source, Seligman met with Mitchell and Jessen in Philadelphia. “The fact that we had a meeting in Philadelphia means that Mitchell and Jessen were at least thinking about interrogation strategies.” Seligman wanted to help and understood what Mitchell had in mind. But having built his reputation as a clinical pioneer — the man who’d discovered learned helplessness... he didn’t want to be seen as telling CIA operatives how to break people by inducing despair... “Seligman”, said the CIA source, had a “classic approach-avoidance conflict regarding helping us…”

According to Bloche, Seligman also met with Mitchell literally days before Mitchell was called to fly to Thailand, where the CIA wanted him to torture a prisoner being held there. The new torture method was based on Segilman's learned helplessness torture/experiments.

Seligman's involvement with the Guantanamo Bay CIA torture program
Clearly, Seligman was involved with people who had direct connections to the CIA torture program at Guantanamo Bay. And it also turns out that Segilman was paid $31 million by the US Army and the CIA to develop learned helplessness torture techniques to use on caged prisoners at Guantanamo Prison aka Gitmo. http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2013/12/kipp-guru-seligman-helped-develope.html

The proof that Seligman, the role model of KIPP schools, played a role in CIA torture is made crystal clear in a 2010 Salon.com article: “The Army earlier this year (2010) steered a $31 million contract to a psychologist whose work formed the psychological underpinnings of the Bush administration’s torture program.

The contract was a no-bid contract as the Army claimed that Seligman was “uniquely qualified.”” Government documents say that the goal of Bush-era torture was to drive prisoners into a psychologically devastated state through abuse. “The express goal of the CIA interrogation program was to induce a state of ‘learned helplessness,’” according to a July 2009 report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The Mitchell/Seligman CIA Torture program at Gitmo subjected detainees to torture techniques such as "water boarding, sleep deprivation, isolation, exposure to extreme temperatures, enclosure in tiny spaces, bombardment with agonizing sounds at extremely damaging decibel levels, and religious and sexual humiliation." One of their defenseless prisoners was water boarded 183 times. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enhanced_interrogation_techniques

Here is a sample of the torture that occurred at Guantanamo Bay in the words of one of its victims, Abu Zabaydahs, in his own words as told to a member of the International Committee of the Red Cross: “After the beating I was then placed in the small box. They placed a cloth or cover over the box to cut out all light and restrict my air supply. As it was not high enough even to sit upright, I had to crouch down. It was very difficult because of my wounds… I was then dragged from the small box, unable to walk properly and put on what looked like a hospital bed, and strapped down very tightly with belts. A black cloth was then placed over my face and the interrogators used a mineral water bottle to pour water on the cloth so that I could not breathe. After a few minutes the cloth was removed and the bed was rotated into an upright position. The pressure of the straps on my wounds was very painful. I vomited…. I struggled against the straps, trying to breathe, but it was hopeless. I thought I was going to die. I lost control of my urine. Since then I still lose control of my urine when under stress.”

The Geneva Convention says, "Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind." What we need now is a Geneva Convention to outlaw cruel and unusual punishment of small children. Outlaw high stakes tests, outlaw Common Core, outlaw charter schools.

How KIPP Schools are related to CIA Torture
KIPP's program can best be described as an extremely sadistic “drill and kill” style of instruction intended to shame students into submission. This method of shaming and punishing small children in a manner that children have little control over, for natural child behaviors like “chatting” indicates that KIPP's program is based on a cross between dog training and military indoctrination. Many kids claim that KIPP schools are a form of torture. However, few realize that the same person who was the inspiration for KIPP schools, psychologist Martin Seligman, was also the inspiration for the CIA Torture program.

Thus, small children at KIPP schools are now being subjected to similar learned helplessness torture techniques as those used by the CIA. Here is a quote from a 2008 article: “In the KIPP schools, children are routinely broken down into a state of learned helplessness through inescapable surveillance (by school and parents), academic drudgery, repeated testing, and isolation and labeling as "miscreants" for any infringement of rules.”

Here is a chart that explains the relationship between Seligman's torture of small helpless dogs and KIPP's torture of small helpless children.

Note that small children also wet their pants when under the stress of high stakes tests and common core standards that they have no hope of meeting. The difference is that small children do not have the coping skills or self esteem of adults. When adults tell them that they are failures, the small children blame themselves for not passing the test – rather than blame the adults for giving them a test that they had no chance of passing. That in a nutshell is child abuse. That is learned helplessness. Whatever else you do, do not allow your kids to go to a KIPP charter school.

What is next?
Now that we understand that charter schools are really nothing more than profit generating child prisons, in the next section we will look at the worst charter school in existence (even worse than KIPP)... a private for profit online charter school called K12 Inc.