Lebron James’ Family Foundation initiative, I Promise, has just opened its first public school in Akron, Ohio. I Promise was always an organization created to increase the achievements of underprivileged youth. Before now, that had been in the form of afterschool programs, but James decided to take it to the next level. The I Promise School is meant to act as any other public elementary school in that it is a part of the school system and primarily serves children living in the neighborhood. The school is unique, however, in its “wraparound” approach to education, combining accelerated learning and community outreach.
The curriculum accommodates longer school days with a focus on math and science classes. Students can benefit from greater access to teachers and learning tools. The school also has an on-site food bank, career development services, a GED program, and psychological services to support at-risk children and their families.
Every child is more or less the same when they are born. They’re impressionable, they need care and attention, guidance and praise for their achievements to grow into well-established adults. Obviously, every child doesn’t get everything they need to succeed. A child can’t focus on school work if they’re hungry, have stressful home lives, or don’t have adults in their lives that consistently encourage them to do well in school.
After enduring hundreds of years of slavery, the oppression didn’t stop there. Former slaves were not allowed to own land, accrue or pass down wealth to their children the way whites were able to. Though that injustice is no longer tolerated, the damage has already been done. Systematic oppression breeds an ugly cycle starting with a child being put into an underfunded school system because their parents can’t afford a quality education. Those children don’t do well because of that lacking education or for any number of other reasons. This might cause them to get into trouble inside and outside of the classroom possibly leading to jail time. Poor grades mean they can’t get into a good college or get a well-paying job. This, in turn, makes it impossible for them to provide a quality education for their own children.
Intervening at the early education level might be able to break this cycle. If a child can receive a quality education and support from parents and teachers, they’d have that much more of a chance to continue learning and working for a better future.
Ohio’s public education budget is not enough to cover costs of what a teacher needs to adequately teach a classroom of students. Most teachers have to come out of their pockets for class supplies. Educators who are passionate about the intellectual growth of underprivileged kids will likely flock to this school for the fully stocked classrooms, challenging but rewarding curriculum and community outreach.
There are so many school districts that could benefit from a school that’s free to attend with free meals and guaranteed college tuition for its students. The Westbury School District in Long Island or the Chesterfield Township school district are just a couple of education systems in need of funding and people who believe in fostering the growth of all children in any way possible. We hope to see more athletes and celebrities making an impact in the education system the way that Lebron James has!