By Ari Bloomekatz
There are few public schools receiving as much attention these days as LeBron James’ I Promise School in Akron, Ohio — and it’s because it’s just that: a public school.
The school opened this summer to 240 3rd and 4th graders who were randomly selected out of a pool of those in the district significantly behind in reading. They will add a grade each academic year and plan to be a 1–8 school by 2022.
“I cannot say how impressed I am that the school @kingjames is opening today to serve low-performing students is a traditional public school. Instead of taking resources from the Akron Public Schools, he is adding to them. This is doing the work. Bravo,” tweeted investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones.
Because it’s a public school, it also means teachers will be unionized. But one defining aspect is its commitment to wraparound support that the school’s principal notes includes a family resource center on school grounds.
“We’re not only into nurturing and loving our students, but we are wrapping around — our arms around the entire family,” Brandi Davis, the school’s principal, told NPR.
Celebrities and millionaires and billionaires and tech giants and titans of industry and sports stars have a long and sordid history of thinking they know what’s best when it comes to education — and trying to profit off it.
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They either try to remake the wheel or overwhelmingly invest in private enterprises and charters that often end up draining already scarce resources from the same public school districts they claim to be helping.