A follow-up to last year's opening (video above) of the LeBron James' "I Promise" school in Akron, Ohio.
Students at the "I Promise" school have made astonishing strides in their learning in just one year. According to The New York Times,
Unlike other schools connected to celebrities, I Promise is not a charter school run by a private operator but a public school operated by the district. Its population is 60 percent black, 15 percent English-language learners and 29 percent special education students. Three-quarters of its families meet the low-income threshold to receive help from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.
Its students went from scoring in the 1st percentile (1%) in reading to 9th (9%) or 14th (14%), depending on their grade. In math, they moved from 1st to 18th percentile (3rd grade) and 2nd to 30th percentile (4th grade) in one year. And the even better measure of their learning is their individual growth goals. Where do they start? What are their obstacles? What is a reasonable expectation for improvement over the course of an academic year, and how can a school best meet those goals? Well, sit down for this.
Ninety percent met or exceeded individual growth goals in reading and math, outpacing their peers across the district.
NINETY. PERCENT. That, my friends, is the REAL way to measure education.
Not only that, this extraordinary school provides services to the parents of students that help them concentrate on the actual learning at hand. Namely, basic needs, like clothing, food (free breakfast and lunch for all the students, and food for parents to take home,) and ways for parents themselves to get educated and employed.
On a tour of the school on Monday, Michele Campbell, the executive director of the LeBron James Family Foundation, pointed out what she called I Promise’s “secret sauce.” In one room, staff members were busy organizing a room filled with bins of clothing and shelves of peanut butter, jelly and Cheerios. At any time, parents can grab a shopping bin and take what they need.
Down the hallway, parents honed their math skills for their coming G.E.D. exams as their students learned upstairs.
All this is coming at essentially the same monetary cost per pupil as the rest of the public schools, and one hour extra of school time per day.
Ms. Wyatt, who is taking classes at the school to get her high school equivalency diploma, said I Promise saved not only her son’s education but her own life.
“I was skeptical even of my own life, wondering, ‘Am I even worth fighting for?’” she said. “When I come here every day, I know it’s going to be O.K.”
Vikki McGee, who runs the school’s family resource center, said the center’s existence conveyed that the school was about something much bigger than a basketball star: “This is about fighting for generations.”
Who'd have thought providing for a family's basic needs when poverty has crushed them for generations would result in their rising up to thrive? LeBron James, that's who.