Saturday, April 29, 2006

An urban success story

I sure hope this USA Today editorial (from last Oct.) is right about school reform reaching a tipping point.
History tells us that real change occurs when the improbable tips into the thinkable. With civil rights, that tipping point occurred in the early 1960s. For the environmental movement, it was the early 1970s. Now there's evidence that urban school reform just might be reaching a tipping point. (Related: Opposing view)

You can feel that change walking the hallways of the KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) charter school in Washington, D.C. The 320 low-income students, virtually all African-American, are so focused and excited about their lessons they don't even look up when visitors enter the classroom. Ask a fifth-grader what year she enters college, and she practically shouts back: "2013!"

An independently run, publicly funded charter, KIPP DC: KEY Academy takes in fifth-graders from traditional city elementary schools. On average, they test at least two years below grade level. But by eighth-grade, admissions officers from top private high schools scramble to recruit them.

KIPP, with 45 charter schools in 15 states and Washington, is a well-documented success story. But KIPP itself won't produce the tipping point. That will come from urban school superintendents reaching out to KIPP and a few other innovative school models.

An urban success story
USA Today editorial, 10/3/05

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