OKC Board of Education weighs KIPP’s charter expansion plan Monday 

click to enlarge Kipp principal Tracy McDaniel poses for a photo, Thursday, May 28, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Kipp principal Tracy McDaniel poses for a photo, Thursday, May 28, 2015.

Tracy McDaniel has a plan for reviving public education in northeast Oklahoma City.

It’s a plan based on the success he built as administrator of KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Reach College Preparatory. The nationally recognized charter middle school begins its 15th school year in OKC Aug. 18. In recent years, the school has outperformed neighboring middle schools on standardized math and English tests.

Now, McDaniel and KIPP supporters want to expand their charter model into elementary and high school grades through a partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools (OKCPS), KIPP’s charter sponsor.

The partnership can help tackle low academic performance and raise the bar on expectations for OKCPS students, McDaniel said.

“We can’t wait anymore,” McDaniel told Oklahoma Gazette. “Our kids deserve this opportunity for education in northeast Oklahoma City. We know we are not the only answer, but based on what we’ve done in the community, we know we can help.”

Monday, the expansion proposal comes before the Oklahoma City Board of Education. The eight-member board is expected to vote on the proposal.

If the board approves the proposal, it would kick off a four-phase plan that would reshape education in northeast Oklahoma City for future generations. The first aspect calls for KIPP moving from its current location in F.D. Moon Elementary School into underutilized classroom space in Martin Luther King Elementary School. Beginning the 2017-18 school year, KIPP teachers would teach the pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes. KIPP would add a grade each year until eventually enrolling fourth-grade students. The new elementary school would feed into the existing middle school.

KIPP would serve neighborhood kids through its elementary program. However, parents could opt out of the program and send their children to another public elementary school. As required by state law, if there were more applicants than spots available, a lottery would be held.

Another phase proposes launching a KIPP high school program by cohabiting in Douglass High School. Under the proposal, planning would begin this fall with a projected opening two years from now.

For McDaniel, the essence of the proposal is the new relationship. KIPP wants to share professional development. Beginning this fall, KIPP aspires to work with three northeast OKC classroom teachers for one year. McDaniel said training and classroom coaching produce more effective lessons. The partnership would continue with three additional teachers receiving the training each academic year.

McDaniel believes there is much the district can learn from KIPP, including different ways to interpret standardized test data and implementing reading and math interventions for students falling behind.

The KIPP proposal has been in the works since November, when McDaniel initially submitted a proposal to former OKCPS Superintendent Rob Neu. KIPP, along with John Rex Charter Elementary School and Santa Fe South Schools, joined forces to request charter expansion through an initiative called Quality Seats in February. In March, the school board gave the go-ahead for public discussion of charter expansion.

Since February, intense debate about charter expansion has taken place.

The KIPP proposal made its public debut at the May 16th school board meeting, days after McDaniel submitted a second proposal to district administration.

“It is all about the kids,” McDaniel said. “I would ask all of the decision makers and the people out there saying no, what do you want for your own child? What kind of education do you want? Are you satisfied with the product that we have now? … I think they would want better.”

Print Headline: KIPP’s moment, OKC Board of Education will weigh KIPP’s charter expansion plan Monday.

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