On October 18th, I sent the following invitation to members of the Little Rock School Board and the district’s superintendent to participate in a free field trip to KIPP: Delta, the successful charter school in Helena-West Helena. Even after a follow-up on October 26th, the board and superintendent have yet to respond to the invitation.
Members of the Little Rock School Board,
First, congratulations to our new board members – Ms. Fisken and Mr. Peterson, and thank you for your willingness to serve. And congratulations to Ms. Curry on your reelection.
Last year, when the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce hosted the Waiting for “Superman” event at Philander Smith College, there emerged a stated desire to learn and willingness to share best practices among traditional public schools and high performing public charters.
With that in mind, Scott Shirey, executive director of KIPP: Delta, has generously offered to host the Little Rock School Board, senior administration, and interested private sector leaders (parents, employers, citizens) in Helena-West Helena so we may experience first-hand what they are accomplishing and how they are doing it. Understanding that this trip would effectively constitute a public meeting, the media would also be invited.
Further, Cary and Gina Martin, Little Rock School District parents, have donated transportation through their company, Little Rock Tours, so there will be no expense to the district.
I was fortunate to attend KIPP: Delta’s recent ten-year anniversary celebration at the Governor’s Mansion. There, the audience heard some inspiring facts, many directly from KIPP students:
- 1,150 students in Pre K – 12 (Helena-West Helena School District has 2,267)
- 96% are African-American
- 89% qualify for free or reduced lunch
- 91% are in AP
- 100% of last three graduating classes have been accepted by a college or university
- U.S. News & World Report Named KIPP: Delta Collegiate High School the “Second Best Public High School in Arkansas”
Some of you have shared concerns regarding KIPP’s student mobility and potential”creaming,” meaning selectively plucking the best and brightest out of the traditional public schools. With that in mind, please consider this national, independent study by Mathematica (http://kipp.org/mathematica) regarding KIPP in general, and the attached University of Arkansas study below, specifically on KIPP: Delta.
Scott has shared the following available dates/times:
- October 25th
- October 29th
- October 31st
- November 9th
- November 12th – 16th
- December 13th – 14th
- December 17th – 20th
It is a 120-mile, 2.25 hour trip to and from Helena-West Helena, so the entire day will need to be blocked for the trip. Please consider this invitation at your meeting and let me know the date(s) you would prefer.
Gary Newton, CCE