NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charter Schools: "Knowledge is Power Program" Expandin

May 21, 2003

A successful charter school program that began in Houston in 1994 is expanding to other cities. The Knowledge is Power Program (or KIPP) started with one Houston academy in 1994. It has since sprouted into 15 campuses in 12 states, and has been touted by Education Secretary Rod Paige, who was superintendent of Houston public schools when KIPP was launched.

  • In addition to bringing KIPP to Dallas, similar efforts are under way in San Antonio and 17 other cities across the country -- all in low-income neighborhoods.
  • The expansion would more than double the number of KIPP schools, and in 10 years, KIPP leaders aim to have 200 schools enrolling about 60,000 students.

KIPP has permission to educate up to 2,000 children in Texas under its statewide charter. Texas charter schools receive a per-child allotment for operating expenses, but usually finance facilities themselves. KIPP relies on donations to cover the gap.

Each KIPP school is run by local leaders and there is no standardized KIPP curriculum. However, each school adheres to the same high standards, longer school days (Saturdays, too), well-trained and empowered principals, and an unrelenting focus on results.

KIPP has an impressive record with children of the poor:

  • Every student who enrolled in the original KIPP Academy in Houston is graduating from high school this spring.
  • All of them have been accepted to college.
  • When it comes to test scores, KIPP school No. 2 in the Bronx has for five years running outscored every other middle school in that borough.

Interestingly, because of their longer hours, KIPP teachers make about 20 percent more than a traditional public school educator. The starting salary in Dallas, for example, will be $40,000, compared to $37,000 in the Dallas Independent School District.

Source: Kent Fischer, "Houston program seeks to repeat success in Dallas," Dallas Morning News, May 19, 2003.


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