On the Lives and Education of Children
Edited By Paul L. Thomas, Paul R. Carr, Julie A. Gorlewski and Brad J. Porfilio
Chapter Three: No Excuses for “No Excuses”: Counternarratives and Student Agency
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No Excuses FOR “No Excuses”
Counternarratives and Student Agency
SHARON M. CHUBBUCK AND BRANDON BUCK
“No-excuses” charter schools represent an educational philosophy predicated on the premise that a student’s zip code should not determine his/her academic experience. The vast number of students in no-excuses schools are low income and of color, with myriad social and economic pressures present in their lives. The reality of those pressures is certainly acknowledged by school personnel in no-excuses schools. The idea that these pressures would deterministically prevent students from achieving academic success, however, is soundly rejected (Carter, 2000; KIPP, 2014; Whitman, 2009; Wilson, 2008). In this model, poverty is simply not an excuse for academic failure. Accordingly, educators in these contexts work to create a culture of high behavioral and academic expectations and support, underwritten by a narrative of student potential that counters stereotypical deficit narratives.
The “no excuses” model has indicated some early promise (Carter, 2000; Mathematica Policy Research, 2013; Whitman, 2009; Wilson, 2008), with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) garnering considerable media attention for helping some of the nation’s poorest students of color attain academic success (Broadprize.org, 2014). Some would question the validity of their indicators of success, but the quality of learning that occurs and the methods used to attain that learning, warrant interrogation even more (Pondiscio, 2013; Ravitch, 2011; Vasquez Heilig, Williams, McNeil, & Lee, 2011). This chapter undertakes some of that...
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