In November 2017, a century after Julius Rosenwald and his family established the Rosenwald Fund in 1917, LeBron James and his family’s fund—The LeBron James Family Foundation—expressed their desire to the Akron school board to build a school specifically aimed at underserved, at-risk children in his beloved childhood neighborhood. Within a year, plans for the new school had been approved and that following school year, the I Promise School opened its doors.
Last week, early results of the I Promise School arrived, and it scored big.
In an article by Erica L. Green on Friday, The New York Times’ reported that 90 percent of the students at LeBron James’ I Promise School met or exceeded individual growth goals in recent district assessments, outpacing students across their Akron, Ohio, district and marking “extraordinary” test-score improvement in less than a year.
According to Green, the third- and fourth-graders at I Promise School “were, by many accounts, considered unredeemable” upon their arrival — “identified as the worst performers in the Akron public schools and branded with behavioral problems.” Now, with the inaugural 240 students finished with Measures of Academic Progress testing, the school is “helping close the achievement gap in Akron.”
The first results are in and living up to the school’s rather fitting name, showing greater promise than most could have conceived at the time of its opening.
“When we first started, people knew I was opening a school for kids. Now people are going to really understand the lack of education they had before they came to our school. People are going to finally understand what goes on behind our doors,” said James.
Much like Julius Rosenwald and the Rosenwald Fund, LeBron James and his family’s foundation provides an excellent template in an education system all too eager to throw money and legislation at private charter schools. Like Rosenwald, James also understands the value of public education and the need for schools to be operated by the district where students actually live and learn.