By Richard Barth and John Fisher,
Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board, KIPP Foundation
Each year for the past 10 years, KIPP has published an annual Report Card to share how our schools are doing—individually, at a regional level, and across the KIPP network as a whole. The Report Card reflects our collective commitment to transparency and accountability. In addition to reporting our progress, the Report Card also provides a unique space to reflect on where we have been, where we are today, and the work ahead.
In 2012, we continued to experience the impact of globalization, as young Americans struggled to gain employment in an economy undergoing dramatic shifts. In the midst of these shifts, the gap in the employment rate between college graduates and non-college graduates continued to widen. What is more clear than ever, is that the future of our country – and all of us who enjoy the incredible freedoms that come with it – depends upon our collective commitment to providing all children with access to a great education. And, while we need this to happen for every child, there is a level of urgency when we consider the challenges faced by the one in five children living in poverty in America. In the greatest country on earth, we live with the reality that a child in a more affluent community is seven times more likely to graduate from college than a child growing up in poverty.
While recognizing the challenges we face, we remain optimistic. When Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin founded KIPP, there were few examples of schools serving low-income students with success. That picture has changed. Today, there are hundreds of transformational schools operating in underserved communities across the country. This growth has, in large part, been achieved by building the talent pipeline necessary to fuel these efforts. In more than a few cities, the odds are increasing that a child will wake up in the morning and head off to a school that will prepare him or her for this incredibly competitive world. In a number of communities, from Houston to Newark, and from New Orleans to Washington, D.C., the results of nearly two decades of hard work are evident.
In this year’s Report Card, we step back to ask: What will it take to build systems of high-performing schools that prepare all students for success in college and in life? In doing so, we hope to move the conversation beyond what it takes to create one great school to how to tackle the challenge of building entire systems of great schools. We share our thoughts on this with great humility, as our beliefs on what it takes to build a great system of schools will continue to evolve, informed by the experience of our KIPPsters and by the shifts in the world taking place all around us today.
This year, the KIPP network grew to include 125 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia that collectively serve more than 41,000 students. As we open each new school, and are joined by others who are innovating and continuously learning, we are optimistic that together we can rise to the challenge of overcoming educational inequity and create a better tomorrow for all children.