Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hey Kids, Want to Open a School?

Basketball superstar LeBron James is partnering with Akron Public Schools to open a public school in that district, the "I Promise School".  It opened on July 31st.


James' life was turned around between fourth and fifth grade, when he had perfect attendance, thanks to the intervention of Frank and Pam Walker. In 1993, the Walker family took James in and encouraged him to focus on his education at a city school in Akron.

James is now trying to act in that role by donating millions to the project and securing support from corporate and educational sponsors.
What kind of school is it?
The I Promise School is the culmination of nearly a decade of work by James' foundation, with its focus on educating children from challenging situations or backgrounds. The school will begin with two grades, third and fourth, with plans to expand in the coming years.

“We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence,” I Promise principal and Akron native Brandi Davis told USA Today. “We are letting people know it is about true wrap-around support, true family integration and true compassion.”

The I Promise School has a longer school day and longer school year. More than 40 staff members will attempt to accelerate the development of children who qualify for the program based on performance and socioeconomic factors.
From CNN:
  • Free tuition
  • Free uniforms
  • Free breakfast, lunch and snacks
  • Free transportation within 2 miles
  • A free bicycle and helmet
  • Access to a food pantry for their family
  • Guaranteed tuition for all graduates to the University of Akron
What's more, parents of students will receive access to job placement services and help acquiring their GEDs.
There will be a focus on hands-on STEM education, with an emphasis on developing problem-solving skills, according to the foundation website.
From the NY Times:
Students were selected for the inaugural class based on their academic history.

“Looking at reading data, we identified students who were a year, two years behind in reading,” Keith Liechty, the Akron Public Schools’ liaison to James’ foundation, told the newspaper. “From that, we had more than 120 kids. We had to put a cap on it so we could fit under one roof. We did a random selection of all students who met that criteria and got to make these awesome phone calls to parents and say, ‘How would you like to be part of something different, the I Promise School.’”

The school year will run from July 30 through May 17, and then will resume for a seven-week summer school. Students will attend weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There is something of a ring of familiarity in comparison with the Harlem Children's Zone which opened in NYC in 1990.  It's an organization that provides pre-k, K-12 schooling (via charter schools) with wraparound services for families.   HCZ is heavily supported by private funds (the majority of their money comes from private funds about. $67.5M.)

Started by Geoffrey Canada, here's how the NY Times describes HCZ:
He chose as his laboratory a 24-block zone of central Harlem, now expanded to 60 blocks -- an area with about 6,500 children, more than 60 percent of whom live below the poverty line and three-quarters of whom score below grade level on statewide reading and math tests -- and he named it the Harlem Children's Zone.
HCZ spends about $16-17K per pupil a year but that doesn't include central administration costs, after-school programming costs, building costs and wrap-around services.  It's hard to get a good number but it's probably upwards of $23K per student.  And it will probably cost that at James' school.

I so applaud Mr. James for going back to the hometown that nurtured him (he missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade and got support to get back on track).  He's not just seeking out underserved students but those who are struggling academically.

Some honest questions:

 - scalable?  Probably not.  There's no public funding that could come near the amounts that are spent in these schools.

- HCZ has major successes but they have also had major problems.

From the NY Times (via Wickipedia):
The New York Times ran an article on October 12, 2010, "Lauded Harlem Schools Have Their Own Problems,"[38] in which they exposed the "low student performance in most of the neighborhood's public schools" and the dismissal, by the board of trustees, of an entire class of 8th graders when their performance was deemed "too weak to found a high school on." They also report that "because it lost more ground than comparable schools, it got a C from the city on its annual A-to-F report card, and an F in the student progress category," while giving credit for the increased math scores of many students in the school.
- There's also the question of having private philanthropy try to fill the gaps in poor children's lives.  HCZ is trying for intergenerational change so that children in these schools get a good education to life them up AND parents get lifted up as well.  That, of course, is a societal change and will take time.

- Will driving more dollars to education and wrap-around services make a difference?  And, even if it does, will lawmakers be willing to fund that?

At the least, these may at least be inspirational and aspirational schools.  


Grouchy Parent said...

Wonderful that LeBron James and Oprah have opened schools. Have Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer or Paul Allen or James Jannard or Gabe Newell or Howard Schulz or Ken Fisher or Charles Simonyi or Craig McCaw (man, we have a lot of billionaires around here) tried that?

Term Paper Writing Services said...

Custom Healthcare Essay Writing Services is very popular for students in search for healthcare assignment writing services and healthcare research paper services.

Okseoabhinav said...

Thank you very much for giving us space to express our feeling and thoughts about above information. I think you will keep updating and changing these information time to time if there is need to change. Transaction And Valuation Services, Audit Firms In India, Business Setup Services In India, Accounting Services, Forensic Accounting and Fraud Detection.

cacpvtltd said...

Thanks for this blog. It really provides awesome information to all readers. keep it up and keep posting these types of blogs on digital marketing services, it's really helpful.
tax firms in delhi