September 11, 2011; Source: Kansas City Star | Breaking new ground in the foundation world, Kansas City’s Kauffman Foundation has decided to open and operate its very own charter school. Kauffman, which has been a big supporter of Teach for America in Kansas City as well as the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) charter schools, is, according to Education Week, the first grantmaking foundation to take this step.
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According to the Kansas City Star, the school will begin with a single fifth-grade class and then add one grade per year as the original cohort of students progresses to the 12th grade. By that time 1,000 students are expected to be attending the school in grades 5 through 12.
The Kauffman Foundation’s stated mission is to support entrepreneurship, but it has interpreted that to include support for education. Kauffman President Carl Schramm told the Star, “You can only learn so much from secondary sources. . . . People who write books are usually professors or observers, or they have axes to grind. If we’re going to be in the business of educating children in Kansas City, the most effective way is to run a school. You can’t run it reading books.” Kauffmann is bringing in Mathematica Policy Research to study outcomes at the school. NPQ would love to hear reader responses to this turn of events.—Ruth McCambridge