I went to a benefit last night for KIPP Heartwood, a high-scoring charter middle school in a low-income, immigrant neighborhood in San Jose. Students’ photos — very good photos — were auctioned off. I wanted the “pillow war” but it went for $1,500.
Charter schools are funded like other public schools: KIPP Heartwood gets about $5,250 from the state for each of its 240 students. But to fund the longer school day and pay teachers for working extra hours, it spends about $1,500 more per student and raises those funds privately.
Of course, it helps to hire young idealistic teachers willing to work very long hours and stay in touch via cell phone with students at night. But teachers aren’t all in their 20s. One of the auctioneers was Lolita Jackson, a veteran math teacher of a certain age, who I saw introducing algebra to enthusiastic fifth graders.
Ninety-nine percent of students are minorities, mostly Hispanic (72 percent) or Asian (16 percent). Sixty percent are considered English Learners when they start. Most come from families poor enough to qualify them for a free lunch. The school is one of the top-scoring middle schools in the state.
I wrote about the school for the Christian Science Monitor when Principal Sebha Zhumkhawala was walked the neighborhoods to recruit students. Now the school has a long waiting list.