In the wake of famed charter school network KIPP’s decision to retire its “Work hard. Be nice.” slogan, some have pilloried the decision as evidence that the network is moving away from its origin as schools that will do all they can to ensure their students succeed and instead accepting a narrative that students from minority backgrounds can’t succeed given the barriers they face.
But as KIPP cofounder Dave Levin argued in the Wall Street Journal in response to the newspaper’s editorial criticizing the decision, quite the contrary. KIPP, he said, is simply acknowledging that if its students work hard and be nice, that may not be enough to succeed, and so they are seeking to revise the motto.
On balance, I think Levin’s point in the letter is right—although notably it’s different from the reasons KIPP cited when it retired the slogan.