Columbus Selected for New KIPP Public School Expansion Site in 2008

Due to broad-based community interest and support, Columbus has been selected by KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) as a new national expansion site in 2008. KIPP officials and leaders in the Columbus community will partner to explore the essential next steps to bring KIPP to Columbus--recruiting qualified school leaders and building a local board of directors.

"We selected Columbus because the community seriously embraces educational reform," explains KIPP CEO Richard Barth. "An enlightened school district leadership, a business community and education research organization deeply committed to improving public education, and a nationally recognized education think-tank, the Fordham Foundation, are all committed to closing the achievement gap in public education in Columbus."

KIPP is a network of free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public schools in under-resourced communities throughout the United States.  KIPP trains educators to open and operate locally-run public schools through a year-long training fellowship--the KIPP School Leadership Program. Originally just two KIPP Academies in Houston, Texas, and the South Bronx, KIPP has grown to a network of 52 locally-run public schools in 16 states serving over 12,000 students. More than 80 percent of KIPP students nationally are low-income and more than 95 percent are African American or Hispanic.

A community coalition of The Columbus Partnership, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, KidsOhio.org and the Columbus Public Schools demonstrated that Columbus is fertile ground for KIPP's growth in 2008. Business leaders have committed more than $500,000 to support KIPP's start-up over the next three years, and will play a critical role in forming the local KIPP Columbus board of directors. These funds will help support a local resource center and support the search for qualified educators to lead KIPP schools in Columbus.

"When several of us visited three KIPP schools in Houston, we were deeply impressed by their ‘no excuses' philosophy and commitment to high expectations for all children," explains Columbus Partnership Chair and Limited Brands CEO Leslie Wexner. "We are pleased to partner with KIPP and the Columbus Public Schools to bring more high quality public school options to families in Columbus. KIPP schools will be expected to achieve at high levels and to make measurable annual progress, and KidsOhio.org and the Fordham Foundation will be monitoring this progress."

KIPP has a "no shortcuts" philosophy of education: outstanding educators, more time in school, a rigorous college-preparatory curriculum, and a strong culture of achievement and support helps KIPP students climb the mountain to college. A report by The Educational Policy Institute in August 2005 found that KIPP made "large and significant gains" compared to traditional urban schools. KIPP's success has been featured in many national news outlets, such as People, The New York Times, Newsweek, PBS, and, most recently, The Oprah Winfrey Show.  In April 2006, Oprah Winfrey called KIPP "a revolutionary new school system."

"KIPP has a proven track record for improving student achievement for underserved and minority students," explains Thomas B. Fordham Foundation Vice President Terry Ryan. "With KIPP's belief in the importance of increased principal autonomy in exchange for increased school accountability, we are excited at the prospect of KIPP coming to Columbus."

Depending on how many leaders are accepted to its prestigious principal training program, KIPP hopes to open one or more public middle schools in 2008. All KIPP middle schools start with a fifth grade and add one grade a year until becoming a fifth through eighth grade public middle school. Ultimately, KIPP hopes to grow a local cluster of elementary, middle, and high schools that will serve 1,500 students when fully operational.

KIPP schools use a combination of higher expectations, greater structure, more time in school, rigorous teacher training and even spirited songs to engage students in learning. KIPP students are typically in school form 7:30am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday, every other Saturday, and for three weeks in the summer. Dedicated teachers are available by cell phone in the evenings for extra help with homework.

"When Dave Levin and I started KIPP back in the 1990s, we had little support beyond our enthusiastic parents, teachers and students," explains KIPP co-founder Mike Feinberg who hosted a delegation of Columbus visitors in October. "With the Columbus community committed from the beginning to set KIPP schools up for success, classroom educators can stay laser-focused on helping their kids climb the mountain to college." 

"What It Takes to Make a Student," by Paul Tough, The New York Times Magazine, November 26, 2006.

"Gap is Persistent," Editorial, The Columbus Dispatch, November 26, 2006.

"School Program Gets Results," by Jennifer Smith Richards, The Columbus Dispatch, November 22, 2006.

"What is a KIPP School?" The Columbus Dispatch, November 22, 2006.