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Pedro Noguera clarifies his concern: Don’t replace kids’ culture

Elizabeth reported yesterday about a conversation she had with NYU professor Pedro Noguera about PS 28, a Brooklyn school that he said is succeeding despite serving a challenging set of students. In that conversation, Noguera objected to what he said is the commonly held idea that “the KIPP way” is the only way to run an urban public school.

Today, after reading comments defending the KIPP charter schools, Noguera clarified his objection in an e-mail to GothamSchools:

I support KIPP, Achieve[ment] First and any school — charter, private or traditional public — that serves children, especially poor children well. However, I reject the notion that there’s one way to educate poor kids or the idea put forward by David Whitman that you must treat their culture as a problem. I also reject the idea that schools should focus narrowly on achievement and ignore the other needs — social, emotional, etc. PS 28 does it all with a high-need population and even though children do not walk the halls in silence they still receive a good education.

In his 2008 book, “Sweating the Small Stuff,” David Whitman lauded what he termed “the new paternalism” in urban education: The trend of highly structured schools, such as the KIPP charter schools, teaching not only academic content but a way of behaving that Whitman says represents “traditional, middle-class values.”