LeBron James did something incredibly this week with the opening of the “I Promise” school in Akron, Ohio. The school promises so many incredible things that are sorely missing from underprivileged areas, and public schooling in general — including longer school days, attentive teachers, and GED programs for parents of at risk students.
“This is a huge moment… for these kids and the whole city of Akron.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) July 30, 2018
The “I Promise” school offers students opportunities that much of society has taken from them in generations old actions that left certain neighborhoods in ruins. LeBron remembers his own childhood during the opening ceremony of the school, wherein he discusses missing 83 days of school due to a childhood marked by instability and poverty. The “I Promise” school’s inaugural class will be made of 240 third and fourth graders who were a year or two behind in reading who were specifically invited to be a part of the school. The school is looking to expand to eighth grade by 2022.
The school offers, amongst other things, 9-5 days, a year that begins in July and ends in May, programs to help the parents of children earn their GEDs, free meals, and a full scholarship to University of Akron upon graduation from high school. The school will also be providing a bicycle to each and every student in order to help them better explore their neighborhood and provide safe transportation to school.
A big aspect of LeBron’s school is also the attention it gives and the help it provides to the communities that the children come from, in order to minimize their worrying about their home life and to strengthen the community. Said the school’s principal Brandi Davis to USA Today —
“I think the missing link in public education is that family wraparound support. Because our students come to school and they’re worried about things at home. … We want to create that safe, that secure and that caring and loving environment for our families and our students so that our kids can focus on education.”
David also added: “We are going to be that groundbreaking school that will be a nationally recognized model for urban and public school excellence.” Indeed, that may be the most revolutionary aspect of the situation. Often good education has a class bias, and by making this incredible school a public one, LeBron is allowing it to be open to the public.
LeBron James expressed his excitement over the work the school is doing, telling ESPN —
“Walking these hallways and seeing, when I was driving here, just the streets that I walked, some of the stores are still up when I was growing up… It’s a moment I’ll never forget — and hopefully the kids, starting with the 240 kids that we have going in here right now starting today, will never forget it, either.”
In a nation that is increasingly divided, and that seems intent on leaving our most vulnerable behind – an act that did not begin with Trump by a long shot one should add– LeBron’s “I Promise” school levels the playing field, and hopefully will serve as a model to how public schooling for at risk children can build them up rather than lose them completely.
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