Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RePublic Schools wins $9.6 million federal grant

RePublic Schools issued the following press release yesterday.  RePublic Schools operates Reimagine Prep on McDowell Road.

The U.S. Department of Education announced today a grant totaling $9,599,599 million to RePublic Schools. This five year grant under the Charter Schools Program (CSP) will enable RePublic to replicate its school model to serve more students and families and expand its computer science education initiatives across the South. With this investment, RePublic will grow from serving 1,335 students in 2015-2016 to 7,215 students each year by 2022.

This grant comes on the heels of three major national philanthropic investments in RePublic’s work in Tennessee and Mississippi from The Charter School Growth Fund, Joel Smilow (former chairman and chief executive of Playtex Products, Inc., and the co-founder and co-owner of the Dinex Group), and from The Louis Calder Foundation.

Ravi Gupta, RePublic co-Founder and CEO, commented on the seismic impact this investment will have for the communities RePublic serves. “This investment will propel us forward in the pursuit of our mission to reimagine public education in the South. We are grateful to Secretary Duncan and his team for recognizing RePublic's efforts to expand high quality, 21st Century educational opportunities for children in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Because of this grant, these states will expand college opportunity to previously underserved students, and spur 100-plus fold increases in the number of students of color who will take and pass the AP Computer Science exam in the years to come. Our students will not only graduate from four year colleges; they will reinvent whole sectors of business and society.”

RePublic Schools currently operates three middle schools and one high school in Nashville, Tennessee and one middle school in Jackson, Mississippi. The organization was chartered for two additional schools in Jackson that are slated to open in August 2016. 82% of RePublic’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and 95% of RePublic’s students identify as people of color.

RePublic scholars have outperformed the district and state in nearly every subject every year since the organization was launched in 2011. RePublic’s flagship schools — Liberty Collegiate Academy and Nashville Prep — made history in 2014 as the first charter schools in the state of Tennessee to score in the top 5% of all open-enrollment public schools for both academic growth and absolute performance. In 2015, Liberty earned this distinction for the second consecutive year.

In addition to its success in traditional subjects, RePublic is also on the vanguard of computer programming instruction. Students take computer programming as a core instructional class, and one hundred percent of RePublic High School students are on track to take the AP Computer Science exam next year. RePublic also partners with district and charter schools to train teachers to implement its open source computer science curriculum. This is a particularly salient initiative in the South, where students of color lack access to this critical set of 21st Century skills. For example, over the last two years, not a single African American student even took the AP Computer Science exam in Mississippi.


Thank you to our hard working educators, parents, scholars, board members, and supporters for making this possible.


Unknown said...

$9,599,599 million is a WHOLE lot of money...

Anonymous said...

Well you'll need consultants, lots of administrators to hire and conferences to attend.

Anonymous said...

9:33 AND vehicles. Will need SUVs, big vans, sedans, and of course credit cards to pay for the gas to travel to "events."

Anonymous said...

"95% of RePublic’s students identify as people of color."

And what do the other 5% identify as?

Kingfish said...

Its a federal grant. That means there are guidelines. Someone has to monitor the spending, provide an outline for how money is spent, track it, and report it. Ask the city of Jackson how that turned out when they didn't do it for the HUD grant.

Anonymous said...

I went to a parent night their last week and I was very Impressed with the commitment, expertise, and strategies that they employ. In reality, I didn't see too much that they do that couldn't be done in a traditional public school in Jackson. I do like the MS charter law that forbids for-profit charter management companies and mandates that the charters serve a more representative student population of the surrounding neighborhood.

I, for one, see the charter as an option, not necessarily a solution for the challenges of education in urban centers. One advantage any charter has over a traditional school is the self selection of parents/students. A charter offers a program, like extended day or mandatory parental commitment, and the parents that can accommodate those requirements enroll their students and parents that can't/won't accommodate these things don't. Ultimately, you end up with a student population that is, if not more prepared to learn, better supported in the home, which is a plus. While a district couldn't mandate these things district wide, perhaps it could offer these things in a few of its schools as an option for parents who choose to enroll their children. This would hit on two main pillars that characterize successful urban schools , time on task and parental involvement. So, JPS, instead of complaining about the money being drawn away from the schools by charters, run the charters out of business by offering what the charters offer, extended school days, mandatory parental commitment (in homework help, student attendance, and volunteer hours of "sweat equity" around the school), and, perhaps in a novel experiment, more culturally responsive curricula and pedagogy (Reimagine prep discussed a lesson on the "Ain't I a Woman" poem by Sojourner Truth at the parent night).

One draw back I see from the charter was the quite narrow curriculum. The students were taught math, science, social studies, literature, and computer science. That's it. All students, all day, everyday (with some breaks for active learning like dance and gym). I'm for working to ensure that the students develop advanced academic skills, but this has to be done in a way that creates within the student a joy of learning (which the school is intentionally trying to instill in its encouragement of students to try more rigorous work in an effort to strengthen their "mind muscles" and learn from failing). The joy starts with a comprehensive exploration of the totality of the human experience. Children need classes in the arts, music, theater, creativity, etc. They need extra curricular activities like debate, robotics, sports, social/community service clubs, etc. (Especially minority students in urban centers). These things help the kids see a different reality, which is vital for them to broaden their worldview and think outside of what their environment and experiences have prescribed for them (look at Harlem Children's Zone for an exemplar program).

Ultimately, whether charter or traditional, the Jackson Community needs to interrogate the notions of school accountability being driven by test scores. This is why the curriculum gets narrowed and decisions made to not incorporate whole learning for children. Everything is driven by test scores or graduation rates or whatever else is required under the accountability model. We as a community must ask ourselves, is what we need in our children and from our schools just a higher test score? Do we need children who are trained in test taking strategies and just learn what is on a test, or do we need schools to develop and draw out of our students their God given potential and creativity?

Kingfish said...

Nice attempt at propaganda. What you left out was that thirty percent of those kids could not much math when they arrived. A large percentage of them could did not test past a first or second grade reading level. Cherry picking my ass.

If you had actually done your homework and spoken to the principal, which you obviously did not, you would have learned that these kids are not cream of the crop or superstars. 80% or more come from single-parent homes, 80-90% qualify for the school lunch federal program. These are the kids most at risk but then that would destroy your narrative, wouldn't it?

yet you claim the curriculum is too narrow. Yeah, right. They can't read, write, do math, and understand science, they have a real chance of functioning in the real world, don't they? They are teaching computer coding to every student. How many JPS schools do that? Madison County School District has ONE that does so. The world and economy is becoming more hi-tech. It sounds to me like the school is keeping up with the world, not looking behind.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct Kingfish. No "cherry-picking" here. These children are 98% eligible for free lunches and come mostly from the area around St. Theresa's Catholic Church. They are the same level as many in public schools. This is going to be a level playing field when it comes to comparing results and don't let anyone tell you differently.

The Principal is a "ball of fire and energy" and New Horizons supports them one hundred percent! Why are some so opposed to trying something different if it will save these children from poverty and crime and give them a chance at a better life?

Anonymous said...


Where did I say they "Cherry Picked"? I simply said that the students were better supported (as evidenced by the turnout at the parent night) than many in the traditional public school. I also mentioned that by state law, their enrollment had to mirror the population in the neighborhood. So you are arguing a straw man, I never said they cherry picked.

My point about the narrow curriculum is that the students and teachers will eventually burn out if all they do is that core curriculum. All students deserve diverse learning experiences, regardless of their current academic proficiency. In order to develop advanced learning skills, it takes actual time on task (not just structured). In other words, the kids themselves must give the extra time and effort. In order for kids to do this, they will have to enjoy what they are doing. Also, to maximize any effort to the kids would give, the school should look at various learning styles and craft a diversity of learning experiences for the kids.

I am from Memphis, a urban center that is lauded nationally for the innovations they are putting in place concerning charter schools. Second to New Orleans, Memphis probably has more charter schools serving children all around the city, in different ways. Just like New Orleans, the charters are proving not to really be solving anything, but that is not to say they aren't helping. Like I suggested, the charters can provide a model for what the traditional schools could do. I find it also interesting that people are quick to dismiss providing a holistic learning experience for poor, black kids around the state under the guise that they "can't read, write, or do math" so anything else would be a waste of time. Yet, MS lags behind most other sates on many academic measures, and people here see the only answer as less investment, less diversity, and less true learning, in the name of "efficiency".

A school with a narrow curriculum and pedagogy is just not a good school, period. I wonder, though, would a narrow curriculum fly in places like Madison or Desoto? I wonder why? Are the kids there just simply smarter, or have they had the advantage of good schooling all along? Do we see a narrow curriculum in Pre-K or the early grades there, so the kids can enjoys sports, the arts, clubs, and field trips later on? Of course not!!!

Anonymous said...

"The students were taught math, science, social studies, literature, and computer science."

Trade comp sci for a foreign language and you have the core curriculum for St. Andrew's. Their record speaks for itself as far as where their grads wind up.

And page after page of your bloviating will never change that.

Kingfish said...

I asked Ravi at the school opening about foreign language. He agreed about the importance of it in a curriculum but thinks the coding/computer science is more important.

THe public schools are real weak in teaching foreign languages. The private schools in this area start teaching it in either elementary school or kindergarten. The public schools, even the good ones, don't start until middle school or later. Even A districts such as Rankin are weak in this area. Notice Mr. (Southern Echo because I think I know who this is) Diversity doesn't ever criticize the public schools for not offering foreign languages as a standard part of the curriculum at an early age when teaching it is most effective.

Anonymous said...

The last time I checked, St. Andrews had sports teams, civic /social clubs, a theater and visual art departments, debate teams, robotics teams, even a geography bee team. In fact, a brief review of their website would note that they have over 40 faculty sponsored clubs outside of sports and visual/performing arts. I'm not saying do those things instead of the core subjects, but along with. Right now the charter is ONLY doing core curriculum. Perhaps as they grow that will change, but narrowing the curriculum, in a charter, private or traditional public school, is simply not a good schooling policy.

Anonymous said...

Well said KF. When some guy writes 5 paragraphs on a blog during the work day, yeah, probably has some propaganda intent. Probably a public school administrator. Who else as that much time to type during the day?

Molenarie's Sphincter said...

Kingfish; Please proofread (and edit as required) your posts prior to entering them. Your second one, above, was much better. The first retort was disastrous.

Anonymous said...

A child who can't read or properly use English, or comprehend what they are reading, is not able to learn to enjoy for example: Shakespeare, or the beauty of a Robert Frost poem. Some of their works are surprisingly prime examples of the basics of civil, daily living. You need basic math skills to assist with learning logical thinking, not always to see if someone is shorting your change. Computer skills are necessary to survive in even the most basic jobs. Social Studies teaches history: to understand and discuss our past, present and futures. PhysEd makes for strong, healthy bodies, teaches sportsmanship, fair play, and tames aggressive behavior. These Charter Students deserve stability and someone to hold their hand. For whatever reason, they didn't get this in their early years. They WILL be challanged. Advanced Placement classes do no good if you haven't mastered the basics. These kids aren't stupid, either. The parents, no matter how uneducated they are, see the importance of education and want to see their kids to succeed. Rejoice that they care, don't push for extras at this level. These kids don't need "AP" this and that. They need to see success, which DOES breed success in later years. As far as their future careers. Hiring authorities like to hire those with College Degrees, not just because they learned what every other student did (the exception being nursing and other titles with specific skills needed), but because they were able to START and COMPLETE a task...namely college. They hope this will follow through in their work habits and work ethic in the "real world." I think this is what the charter schools are trying to achieve.

Anonymous said...


Of course basic academic skills are necessary to access advanced learning and even appreciate academic learning in general. The challenge is how do we impart those skills to students who, in the case of the children being served in urban centers, probably have not had a good opportunity to acquire these skills. A narrow curriculum doesn't help impart these skills better than a robust one. Hence, you don't see narrow curricula at good schools, period. The only places you see such narrow curricula are in schools where there is a disproportionate representation of poor and minority students. That is because these are where the children of the voiceless and powerless are compelled to go to school. If a narrow curriculum worked to impart basic academic skills, you would see this at all good schools, but alas you won't see this at any good school.

Charters are notorious for narrow curricula and pedagogy. They can get away with it because when students don't respond to the narrow curricula or pedagogy, the charters can weed them out, or they simply are subject to their charter being revoked, due to accountability. Public schools that have narrow curricula and pedagogy are either "Low performing" or do not exhibit sustained success. Either way, the assertion that students that are behind need a narrow curriculum and pedagogy neglects the notion of differentiation in learning styles and the concepts of relevance and relativity in their schooling. Students must connect to the content and skills they are being taught if they are to invest the time and effort necessary to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to be successful. A narrow curriculum doesn't respect that reality.

Anonymous said...

2:09 Dumbass - we're talking about a brand new school in its first year, are we not? How many extracurricular activities did SA have in 1947, their first year?

Just shut up and go away. Those of us who have paid a bundle to get our kids the best available education (that means SA) may grumble amongst ourselves, but we keep paying it because we know what the alternatives are like round these parts.

Anonymous said...

10:08 - translucent...

Anonymous said...

Well a Broad Cirriculum is working really well in JPS isn't it! Looks to me like it's Reading, Writing and Arithmetic with computer skills. The first three seemed to work well on prior generations. Doesn't make much sense to offer a broad Cirriculum when the average students aren't handling the basics.

Algebra I Counts said...

I've never heard of RePublic or ReImagine Prep. Interesting. I guess. But, at the end of the day, in the throng of people at the Coliseum Job Fair, will it matter whether they attended RePublic or Provine or Jim Hill? My best bet is you tell a recruiter you graduated from RePublic or ReImagine Prep and the recruiter will ask you what the hell that is.

Anonymous said...

I once attended an "Old Charter" school. Wait a minute. It might have been a bar.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the charter schools have just developed an effective means of separating the "want to's" from the "don't care's".

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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