Former President Bill Clinton praised charter schools at the KIPP Summit in Orlando last week, singling out the KIPP chain for success with high-poverty students and because it has “proved that you can replicate excellence.”
“I wish there were 10 times or 100 times as many KIPP schools because you have proved that you have solved the No. 1 challenge in American education,” Clinton said. “As a laboratory of democracy, you have proved that you can replicate excellence.”
“Innovation is not just coming up with a good idea,” he continued. “Innovation is rapidly replicating excellence.”
A 12-minute portion of Clinton’s speech, which as far as I can tell was not covered by any major media, was captured and posted on YouTube by education reform advocate and KIPP supporter Whitney Tilson. In it, Clinton, an early supporter of charter schools, noted there were about 2,000 nationwide when he left office in 2001.
“Now there are nearly 6,000,” he said. “But I wish there were 12 .. 18 … 24 … 30,000. I wish there were more. And the main reason I wish there were more is you.”
Clinton pointed to the high rate of low-income kids in KIPP schools, and singled out the success of the KIPP Delta schools in his home state of Arkansas.
“Our children are not poor. They are rich in their potential,” he also said. “And KIPP has proven it.”
Clinton suggested students would benefit if more traditional public schools adopted the approach of KIPP and other high-performing charters.
“There are still people in the public school establishment who fight charter schools, which I think is a mistake,” he said. But, he quickly added, “There are still only very few charter schools that are actually working with the public schools in their communities to give all the kids the benefit of what is proven to work in successful charter schools.”