Expanding effective school models
It’s not easy to educate poor kids to high standards, but it’s possible. Two successful models — KIPP charter middle schools and Cristo Rey Catholic high schools are expanding with the help of philanthropists.
The Dallas Morning News reports that KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) is expanding in Dallas, San Antonio and 17 other cities across the country. KIPP schools — usually fifth through eighth grade — are located in low-income neighborhoods.
If successful, the expansion would more than double the number of KIPP schools, making it one of the nation’s largest networks of independent public schools. In 10 years, KIPP leaders aim to have 200 schools enrolling about 60,000 students.
But unlike companies that operate chains of public charter schools, each KIPP school is run locally, by school leaders such as (Steve) Colmus. There is no standardized KIPP curriculum. Indeed, as of Tuesday, Mr. Colmus was still developing his school’s math curriculum.
Each KIPP school, however, adheres to the same guiding principals of high standards, longer school days (Saturdays, too), empowered and energetic principals, and an unrelenting focus on results. The national KIPP organization, however, does keep an eye on the locals through financial inspections and site visits.
KIPP’s results have been excellent, so far. Hard work seems to pay off.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will fund new Cristo Rey schools in 12 cities, impressed by the success of Jesuit high schools in inner-city Portland, Austin, Los Angeles and Chicago.
In a Chicago neighborhood where 62 percent of the students do not make it to graduation, some 85 percent of the Cristo Rey students graduate, and all of this year’s graduates are going on to college, said the Rev. John Foley, who founded the schools.
. . . To meet expenses, the schools double as temporary employment services. Students work without pay five days a month in entry-level jobs at local businesses, which pay the schools roughly $25,000 a school year for their services. The money offsets operating costs, and the jobs provide the students with work experience.
To make time for students’ jobs, the schools run on a longer school day and year.
(Joshua) Hale said the school encouraged students with the money and grades to attend other private schools if possible, and tried to enroll students who had no other options. “What we’re looking for is kids that are motivated,” he said. “They may be a C student, but they want a brighter future.
Once again, hard work pays off.