Saturday, April 04, 2009

Ben Chavis and the American Indian Public Charter Schools in Oakland

Ben Chavis is worth studying.  There's a chapter on him and the American Indian Public Charter Schools in Whitman's book and I found many articles with a quick Google search.  The title of one of them captures him well: Madman, genius or both? (  He's both, but that's OK with me.  His schools are grades 6-12 and his first group of 27 seniors graduated last year -- and 100% went to four-year colleges.  He's grown AIPCS from one school to five and all of them got API scores above 900 from the CA Dept of Education (scores range from 200 to 1000 with a statewide goal for all schools of 800; needless to say, nearly all other Oakland schools are nowhere near 900, much less 800).  He told me his black and Latino kids are outscoring white and Asian kids -- so much so that leaders of the Chinese community in Oakland asked him to open a school in their community -- and it's his lowest-scoring school (so far anyway)!  His brash, in-your-face style would make any reasonable person uncomfortable, but great leaders often have this trait (think Patton).  Here's what I know: if I had to send my kids to an inner-city school, I'd want them at one of his schools (if there weren't a KIPP nearby of course; interestingly, critics level some similar charges against KIPP as they do against Chavis: the discipline is too harsh -- oh boo hoo hoo...).

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