In 25 years, KIPP has grown from a program for fifth graders in Houston to a nationwide network of charter schools, enrolling more than 100,000 students in 20 states and Washington, DC, including nearly 30,000 students. in Texas.
As more than 6,000 KIPP teachers and alumni gathered in Houston this week to mark its 25th anniversary, charter school leaders predict increased growth, including new campuses and a new focus on graduates.
In an interview with News 88.7, Richard Barth, the chairman of the KIPP Foundation, said they are creating a network for alumni, who can support each other and support KIPP after college.
âWe believe that the KIPP alumni network will become one of our greatest achievements, as they have the ability to help each other, to help themselves, to help KIPP and I think to build a better world for all of us – and we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg, âhe said.
MORE: Full Interview with Richard Barth on Houston Matters
Barth said this reflected an ongoing evolution, noting how KIPP has gone from a fifth year program to middle and high schools, from there to entering college, then to college completion and now to life after college.
KIPP is also planning a greater expansion of brick and mortar. Earlier this year, it received more than $ 80 million from the US Department of Education’s charter schools program to open more campuses, which will include at least four new schools in Texas.
Teachers at the organization say they have seen KIPP develop in other ways as well, beyond numbers. Chae Ray, who teaches reading and English at KIPP Courage College Prep in Houston, said she was focusing more on the child as a whole and on alternative approaches to discipline, such as restorative justice.
“I know I really started to understand children as humans. I think when you walk into the classroom you think, âAcademics, academics, I need you to learn, I need you to learn! “And then you sit down and realize that this baby isn’t going to learn until all of these other things are taken care of,” Ray said.
Nadia Abdalah, who teaches second year at KIPP Austin Leadership, said that with KIPP’s anniversary and the continued growth expected, she sees power in numbers.
âThe older we get, the more we can stand up for students across the country. And with this power of numbers, we reach as many children as possible. And then having everyone animated by the same mission, by the same passion, by the same love in class, this is what reaches the students, the most important â, declared Abdalah.
KIPP educators fended off criticism that charter schools drain resources from traditional public schools. For example, the Houston Independent School District saw enrollment plummet last year, in part due to the departure of students for KIPP, YES Prep and other charters.
âWe are nowhere near providing the number of good schools for families,â Barth said.
To subscribe to Today in Houston
Fill out the form below to subscribe to our new daily HPM Newsroom editorial newsletter.