Pawlenty, community look to KIPP to bridge achievement gap

The achievement gap is like the weather: everyone talks about it, but everyone has seemingly been powerless to do anything about it, until now.

In a collaborative effort between community organizations, big business, and his administration, Governor Tim Pawlenty announced in a press release that they will try to bridge the Twin Cities public school achievement gap with KIPP. By bringing KIPP to Minnesota, Pawlenty is making good on his promise in his 2006 state of the state address, in which he said:
Success for Minnesota in a global economy also demands that we develop the potential of all our citizens. Disparities in graduation rates and academic performance between white students and students of color continue to be a moral, social, and economic crisis.

I've proposed school choice as an alternative for poor, failing or disabled children. The legislature should pass school choice as an alternative for at least our most disadvantaged students.

In the meantime, we should pursue other new and innovative approaches that produce results, such as the The Knowledge is Power Program, or KIPP schools.

These are rigorous, public, college prep schools where disadvantaged students develop the knowledge, skills and character needed to succeed in top quality high schools, colleges and the competitive world beyond.

I'm directing our Department of Education to seek out and authorize KIPP charter schools in Minnesota, focusing on areas where our needs are the greatest.

The group that is bringing KIPP to Minnesota is a broad-based coalition of community groups, educators, and business: Somali Action Alliance; William A. Cooper, TCF Financial and chater school sponosor Friends of Ascension; DFL primary candidate for Congress Ember Reichgott Junge; Center for School Change, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs; Black Alliance for Educational Options; and the Minnesota Department of Education, among others.

The KIPP approach incorporates high expectations and "quantity time" for students. The school day is long, 7:30 am to 5:00 pm weekdays, plus every other Saturday and three weeks in the summer. (Somewhere, controversial former Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Thandiwe Peebles must be smiling.) Parents, taxpayers, and the community will be looking to KIPP to repeat its past successes here in the Twin Cities.