More About KIPP Schools
In 1994, Dave Levin and I started KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) with 50 students in Houston after completing our two-year commitment to Teach for America. Our first year in Houston, two-thirds of students came to KIPP with a "bilingual" label. By the end of the first year, two-thirds were "gifted and talented."
Feinberg explains that KIPP schools, rather than skimming the cream from diverse traditional public schools, cater specifically to students who have fallen behind:
We are not achieving results by "cherry-picking" students. All schools are open-enrollment public schools. There is no admissions test. The average student enters KIPP two years below grade level in fifth grade, and leaves KIPP in eighth grade achieving at a ninth-grade level. Over 80% of KIPP students nationwide are low income, and 95% are African-American or Hispanic/Latino.
Feinberg also writes about KIPP’s projected expansion in Houston, where it hopes to capture 10% of the public school market and thereby pressure the traditional public schools to shape up.
I doubt KIPP will cause any improvement in the stagnant St. Louis public schools, which have proved themselves resistant to change from all quarters. But KIPP will provide some students who are currently trapped in SLPS with an attractive alternative. And it may pave the way for other charters and more choices for students.
By the way, I should mention that Kansas City already has a KIPP charter school, the KIPP Endeavor Academy. Here you can learn more about the school and see cute pictures of students and teachers working hard.