KIPP Parents and Students Cling to Hope

February 25, 2009 11:57:19 PM PST
Parents and students still clinging to hope that the KIPP Academy will go on. The charter school had a board meeting Wednesday night, just as Fresno Unified School Superintendent Michael Hanson was making comments that seemed to doom KIPP to disappear.                       |   Watch Video for Extended Coverage   |

The school scored 850 on last year's Academic Performance Index, or API test, which is about 170 points higher than FUSD averaged and parents say it'll be a big mistake to shut down the school. KIPP Academy's school board meeting Wednesday night turned into a brainstorm session for keeping the school alive.

Parents and kids say this is the best environment for learning in all of Fresno. "KIPP has gotten back to taking out the distractions, all the noise, and keeping them focused on curriculum," said Mira Dick, whose daughter is in the 7th grade at KIPP. "This is the perfect school for my child," said Laurie McCloskey. "She loves music. This has an outstanding music program."

Music is one of the fundamentals at KIPP. Every fifth grader has to learn to read and play it. They also have to plan to go to college and be polite and hard-working.

For Laurie McCloskey's daughter M.J., those rules have made for a night and day difference from her experience at three other Fresno schools. "Most of my other schools I've been to, I've been teased and I haven't gotten a good education," she said. "And some of my tests, I've gotten F's."

Laurie McCloskey is a Fresno Unified teacher herself, but she sees a dedication among KIPP teachers that she can't even achieve. The school's open until 5 p.m. and many teachers work late and on weekends -- sometimes putting in 60-hour workweeks.

She's worried about how her daughter would react to moving to any other school. "I would really be sad and I would probably just not care about any other school," said M.J. McCloskey.

Former principal Chi Tschang was at Wednesday's board meeting, but he says he's mostly staying away from the school at the request of FUSD administration.

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