by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In August, KIPP Durham, a charter school for low-income children, will open. And members of the Durham County Board of Education are not happy about it. From an article in The Herald Sun,
“There’s very mixed research on your methodology, on your programs and on your attrition and it makes me concerned for the community you are coming into,” said school board member Natalie Beyer. “I wish you would still consider not opening in Durham because we don’t need you here.”
Beyer and other board members questioned KIPP’s discipline practices, fund-raising methods and plans for further expansion into North Carolina and complained that the school would take resources from struggling schools near it.
The truth is that Durham does need the school and others like it. KIPP schools have an excellent track record in North Carolina and elsewhere.
According to the article, KIPP Durham will pull students from Eastway, Y.E. Smith, Glenn and Merrick-Moore elementary schools. According to test results published by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the overwhelming majority of children who attend these schools are failing.
– Last year, 81.7 percent of students at Eastway did not meet grade-level proficiency. Over 85 percent of students at this school were not proficient in reading.
– Around 72 percent of students at Y.E. Smith did not reach grade-level on state end-of-grade tests. Nearly 8 out of 10 students at Y.E. Smith were not proficient in reading.
– Glenn Elementary School fared a bit better, as 67 percent of students did not hit the mark.
– Finally, 71.9 percent of students at Merrick-Moore were not at grade level.
Durham County school officials should focus on the well-being of children, not their market share.