Thursday, February 11, 2010


Last night was one of those AMAZING KIPP events – in fact, two events going on at the same time.  KIPP NYC College Prep, our new high school, had an open house, mostly for prospective teachers, that was very well attended.  At the end of this email (also posted at: are two pics – the latter is a bulletin board that shows the many extracurricular activities the high school offers.  The importance of this was underscored by the principal of the high school, Natalie Webb, during the Q&A.  She was asked what were the biggest lessons she learned about successful high schools during her year of training as part of the Fisher Fellows program, and she replied that every successful school she's seen makes school fun and interesting for students.  Maybe not every class or every day, but there's something that draws the kids in.  The academic day ends at 3:30pm at KIPP NYC College Prep, but the students don't leave until 5pm, so there's an hour and a half every afternoon for a wide range of extracurricular activities.  If you can't see the picture, on the board are t-shirts for football, cheerleading, the newspaper (called "The Scholar"), robotics, dance, soccer, cross country, volleyball, basketball, and whatever "Founders 17" is.


But the real highlight of the evening was the community hearing regarding locating the new KIPP Infinity Elementary in the space the our high school currently occupies.  Here's the background: KIPP Infinity, like all of our KIPP schools in NYC, shares space with a regular public school, IS 195.  This school year, we didn't have a permanent home for our new high school (about 175 9th graders this year), so we squeezed it onto the third floor of IS 195, sharing the floor with KIPP Infinity.  With 200 more students entering the high school this fall, the high school is definitely moving, so the space it's vacating is the obvious home for the new KIPP Infinity Elementary School, which starts in August.  The DOE agrees and has proposed this, which requires a public hearing.


As I noted in my last email (, at these hearings the union and the regular public school (which always thinks it owns the building) usually organize protests to create media coverage and headaches for the charter school, the DOE, Bloomberg and Klein.  As expected, the union and IS 195 are opposing the DOE giving KIPP Infinity Elementary the space being vacated by the high school, so we were expecting a big protest last night and, in response, organized KIPP students, parents and staff to turn out.  And did they ever turn out!   

KIPP ROCKED THE HOUSE!  Our students and parents packed the room to the rafters and, one after another, took the microphone and told story after story about how KIPP had changed their life (or their child's life).  Many speakers choked up.  It was INCREDIBLY POWERFUL!  And it was a brilliant example of advocacy in action.  We need to be doing a lot more of this if we're going to win this war…


I videoed two mothers, posted at: and  If you don't have time to watch the videos or can't hear what they're saying, I transcribed part of each mother's remarks:


A) Mother #1 ( "My son has not only grown to be excellent in education, but in character and a human being and independent, who looks up to his mentors.  And who are his mentors?  All…this…staff…from…KIPP.  So KIPP Elementary is going to do nothing more than to start down on the bottom, and by the time they reach KIPP high school, they're going to be the generation that we need…So I give a shout-out to Mr. Negron, who is the founder, who has stood there, who has made what the word "family" really means.  Because he has no kids, but he has all of our kids!" (crowd goes nuts)


B) Mother #2 ( "I'm the very proud parent of two kids at KIPP.  One is a graduate who started at the very beginning of KIPP.  Mr. Levin took a chance on my daughter and I took a chance on KIPP, and it was a best decision I ever made.  She graduated and at that time I was begging Mr. Levin, 'Please make a high school, please make an elementary school," because it had made such a difference.  I have a son who just graduated from KIPP and is now in high school.  KIPP doesn't just take scholars, they don't.  It's a lottery…they work with your children if your kid's got problems.  If they need extra help, they help comes in.  It does not take scholars – that's wrong. 


"KIPP teaches our kids…in the urban community, if our kids, if they're scoring a 97 average, but if you take them out to Westchester, their 97 average is a 57.  So they're bringing them up to par.  They're not giving them the urban education. 


"KIPP does not end once they graduate high school, once they graduate college.  They keep in touch.  This is such a family and every child does deserve this opportunity."

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