Don't miss Richard Kahlenberg's provacative piece in American Educator (Winter 2012-2013) which examines the roles of poverty and racial segregation and their impact of student learning. Kahlenberg takes on those who exaggerate the effect of "high-flying, high-poverty schools" or those [like Michelle Rhee--m.k.], who consider poverty to be mainly an "excuse" made by bad teachers who fail to produce high standardized test score results in poor, segregated schools.
Kahlenberg also takes a fair, but critical look at KIPP charter schools in particular, which have been held up as living evidence by the no-excuses crowd. One thing new I learned is that among KIPP graduates, two-thirds have failed to earn a bachelors degree, "a level of failure, one of KIPP's founders, Mike Feinberg, called 'unacceptable' given the group's goal of 75% college completion."
One area where I may disagree with Kahlenberg is on the optimism he shows regarding new "integration by socioeconomic status" plans which have been put in place after a conservative Supreme Court banned most racially-based affirmative actions plans. Kahlenberg says the new approach is a cost-effective, legally sound strategy that can promote racial diversity while narrowing the achievement gap.
We shall see if that's even its intent.