New Gates Compact for Spring Branch ISD, YES Prep, and KIPP

I’m still riding high, after an amazing trip last week.  Although my feet are back on the ground in Texas, it feels like I’m blogging while flying at 35,000 feet.  That’s because I’ve got two great partners, and we just publicly affirmed our commitment  to providing ALL the children in our suburb of Houston with a great education and the opportunity to enjoy a great life.

Duncan Klussman, Spring Branch Independent School District superintendent, and Jason Bernal, president of YEP Prep Public Schools, and I recently returned home from a Charter-District Collaboration Compact announcement hosted by the Gates Foundation in Chicago.  It was great to announce our Compact, and to be in the company of leaders from 13 other cities that share this passion.

YES Prep and KIPP have been Houston partners since the mid 90’s, constantly looking for more ways to help one another.  In SBISD, we have found a school district partner who also gets it: SBISD doesn’t view children as belonging to one district versus another or one charter versus another.  Rather, they hold the view that all our children are just that: all of our children. SBISD isn’t focused on passing a low bar of ensuring they remain acceptable in the eyes of the state education agency.  No, they are focused on doubling their percent of children obtaining a degree in higher education after leaving the district (by the way…how many school districts know their numbers post HS graduation?  Raise the bar :)

SBISD doesn’t view intellectual property as a resource that needs to be hidden and protected.  They are open and hungry to share best practices with their new partners at KIPP and YES Prep, and we are thrilled to reciprocate.

We are calling our partnership SKY, using the first letters of the names of our three organizations.  And it’s poetic that our 3 letters can come together to form something that none of the letters could do on their own:  a word.  That synergy of 1+1+1 equaling something greater than 3 will come to fruition in the summer of 2012 as Landrum Middle School will be the new home for a KIPP school, and Northbrook Middle School will be the new home for a YES Prep school; and in 2015, KIPP and YES Prep will further our partnership as a new YES Prep High School at Northbrook High School will be the feeder high school for the entire class of Landrum KIPPsters.

We are excited to learn from one another, grow from one another, light a path for other charters and ISD’s in Texas and the nation to follow, and in the end, help more of  OUR children climb the mountain to and through college. The SKY is NOT the limit!

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