By John Wolfkill, Executive Director, KIPP Tulsa
For seven years KIPP Tulsa has functioned as a contract school. This meant that we operated through a contract with Tulsa Public Schools as opposed to our own charter, which would provide us more autonomy in exchange for higher accountability. In those seven years, we flourished and grew, touched hundreds of young lives, and were consistently overwhelmed by the level of excellence our KIPPsters exhibited. We’ve taken seven generations of KIPPsters on End-of-Year Field Lessons to places like Washington DC, New York City, Atlanta, and Chicago, and we’ve introduced successful Saturday Day School programs like Tae Kwon Do and Financial Planning. These opportunities have offered our KIPPsters priceless “real world” learning experiences, and they’ve expanded their visions for the future and for college. There’s no doubt the past seven years have been invaluable for the north Tulsa students whose transformations we’ve had the privilege of watching. But, despite our progress and the remarkable transformation of our students, we always knew we had another leap to take before our influence on Tulsa really began.
Since our inception in 2005, KIPP Tulsa has been on the path to becoming an independent charter school. I’m thrilled to announce that on July 1st of this year, KIPP Tulsa College Preparatory officially became a charter! This transition opens many doors to us, and we’re especially excited for this new opportunity to grow our impact.
Becoming a charter enables us now to pursue a goal we’ve had since our doors first opened: to grow into a KIPP region and in doing so reach thousands of new students in north Tulsa. We look forward to standing on the shoulders of KIPP schools before us as we spread our roots in our community. Without schools like KIPP, the opportunities for north Tulsa students to succeed are unacceptably limited; only 1-2% of African-American and Hispanic students graduate from high school prepared for college (this information is based upon ACT scores from the Tulsa Public School District). Based on results from the graduating classes of 2005-2007, of the 42,000 students in Tulsa, only 43% can be expected to enroll in college and a mere 16% will graduate.
That’s why KIPP Tulsa aims to serve 2,200 students by the year 2020 through a five-school feeder program that will include two elementary schools, two middle schools, and one high school. As KIPP Tulsa’s first class of KIPPsters begins attending college in 2013, KIPP Tulsa is working hard to ensure more students from North Tulsa attend and graduate from college.
This is an exciting time for us, and we appreciate the support of our national Team and Family as we take this first step towards reaching more young lives in our community. KIPP has consistently proven that demographics do not define destiny, and with this new chapter in our history we are confident that KIPP Tulsa will empower thousands more young people to achieve success in high school, college, and the competitive world beyond.