Program Success August 2018 | Page 3

Andre Perry
LeBron James I Promise School Andre Perry
LeBron James Akron , Ohio I Promise School Fall 2018 Andre Perry Akron , Ohio August 2018

LeBron ’ s ‘ I Promise School ’ Offers a Few Important Lessons in Education Reform

Last week , President Trump scoffed — albeit passive aggressively — at basketball icon LeBron James ’ intelligence in a tweet , stating , “ Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television , Don Lemon ,” Mr . Trump wrote , “ He made Lebron look smart , which isn ’ t easy to do . I like Mike !” But it looks like LeBron is the one taking Trump to school .
In the same week , LeBron announced the opening of his I Promise School . It is open to 240 low-income , at-risk third- and fourth-grade students in his hometown of Akron , in northeast Ohio . Each year , the school will add grades , expanding to first through eighth grades by 2022 . Outstream Video
I Promise is a public-private partnership between the Akron School District and the LeBron James Family Foundation , a unique model that exemplifies LeBron ’ s exceptional abilities to see the bigger picture in the role education plays in community development .
The new school is open for more days than the traditional school year , provides parents with job placement services , has a food bank on site , gives each kid a free bicycle and helmet , guarantees college tuition for every student who graduates and offers social and emotional support and other wrap-around services , something researchers and practitioners recognize as important . The school accounts for and addresses the structural discrimination that has long hurt black families - and black school districts . In a way , by connecting social assistances to the school , I Promise is providing wraparound services for the entire district .
Amplifying the school ’ s offerings so far beyond the curriculum certainly isn ’ t conventional , but LeBron is deliberately stepping out-of-bounds , and kudos to him for that .
“ Everything these kids are going through - the drugs , the violence , the guns , everything they ’ re going through as kids , I know ,” said LeBron , the son of a single parent , during his remarks at the school opening . “ For me to be in the position where I have the resources , the finance , the people , the structure and the city around me - why not ?”

Andre Perry

Dr . Andre Perry , a contributing writer , is a David M . Rubenstein Fellow at The Brookings Institution . His research focuses on race and structural inequality , community engagement and education .
Program Success 3 August 2018