Straight Up Conversation: KIPP Co-Founder Mike Feinberg on KIPP Turbo and His New Gig
Rick Hess with an insightful interview of KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg:
Mike Feinberg is co-founder of the KIPP Academies and superintendent of KIPP Houston, which serves more than 6,000 students in 18 schools. In 2007, KIPP Houston announced its "KIPP Turbo" plan, under which it aims to grow into a Pre-K to 12 network of 42 schools. The goal is to enroll 10 percent of the students in Houston, making KIPP Houston by far the largest network of charter schools in one city. As part of this effort, Mike recently announced that he'd be shifting roles to focus on fundraising, advocacy, and external relations, while handing the superintendency of KIPP Houston off to a successor. If you're not familiar with Mike's story, you can check out Jay Mathews' KIPP book, Work Hard, Be Nice for an immensely readable, if pretty syrupy, account. Anyway, with Mike changing roles and with KIPP Houston well into its ambitious growth plan, I thought it'd be interesting to chat with Mike about looming challenges and lessons learned.
Rick Hess: Can you tell me a bit about the KIPP Houston growth plan?
Mike Feinberg: We cooked it up back in 2006. We call it KIPP Turbo. The goal is to try to find the tipping point. What would happen if we get about 10 percent of the neighborhood in a large school district to be in a high performing system of schools? Is it possible to keep our current college matriculation and graduation rates at a very high level and even improve them? What would be the impact of the other 90 percent [of schools]? In Houston, that 10 percent represents about 42 schools and 21,000 kids.