K–12 education reform is a focus of national attention. Houston is widely recognized for the remarkable success of two charter school networks, KIPP and YES Prep, and for the recent bold moves by the Houston Independent School District to improve the way that teachers are evaluated.
In the mid-nineties Mike Feinberg and Chris Barbic were Teach For America corps members in underserved communities in Houston, searching for better ways to educate their students. The conviction that low-income students can achieve at the same academic levels as their more affluent peers led the young teachers to found two networks of charter schools—KIPP (the Knowledge Is Power Program) and YES Prep Public Schools.
In each of the first two sessions of this course, we will tour the campus of one charter school, enjoy lunch with students, and engage in discussion with the school’s founder. KIPP and YES Prep are both ranked by U.S. News & World Report in its annual list of the country’s 100 best high schools. Both schools require that every senior be admitted to a four-year college or university, and 90 percent of students are first-generation college-bound. Together, KIPP and YES Prep plan to operate more than 40 campuses, serving 30,000 students, in the Houston area within the next 10 years.
In the third session we will hear from Dr. Terry Grier, superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, who has said that he considers the district’s relationship with KIPP and YES Prep a partnership as well as a competition. HISD is the seventh largest school district in the country and serves more than 200,000 students.
September 14: KIPP Houston Flagship Campus
Mike Feinberg, co-founder of KIPP and superintendent of KIPP Houston, will describe this charter district’s history, philosophy, and programs. The Houston Flagship Campus houses three schools: early childhood and elementary school, middle school, and high school, with a total of approximately 1,700 students. As at YES Prep, students are selected through a random lottery process with no admission requirements. There are 12 additional KIPP schools in Houston, located on five campus sites.
(10711 KIPP Way, Houston 77099; 832-328-1051)
September 21: YES Prep North Central
Our group will meet with Chris Barbic, founder and chief executive officer of YES Prep. The North Central campus is one of eight YES Prep schools in Houston, and together they serve more than 4,100 middle- and high-school students. The rigorous college preparatory model includes a longer school day and week, mandatory community service, and a personalized college counseling program.
(13703 Aldine-Westfield, Houston 77039; 713-967-8800)
September 28: Houston Independent School District
Houston welcomed Dr. Terry Grier as superintendent of HISD in September 2009, after the district’s trustees voted unanimously in favor of his selection. Promising to transform HISD’s educational culture, he pledged to put the interests of children first and to recognize that effective teachers and school leaders are the solution to student success. In the past year he has worked toward the goal of ensuring that HISD will become Houstonians’ K–12 school system of choice.
(Location to be announced.)
Brown-bag lunches will be provided for those who register in advance.
Before the course begins, the Houston Seminar will distribute a class roll to subscribers in the event that they would like to car pool.