Why Are Newark Public Charter Students Ending Up in College, And Staying in College?

We Found One of the Reasons – KIPP New Jersey’s KTC Program!

Last week The Newark Report took a look at the Link Community charter school, where innovative strides are taking place in education.

Link’s unique “elective” program is not only providing Newark students with a world-class education but also showcasing what can happen when communities and schools come together.

This week, we wanted to make sure that Newarkers were aware of yet another unique, world-class program – this one from KIPP New Jersey.

It is hard to believe – considering the generations and generations of neglect many of us Newarkers have witnessed and experienced at the District school level – but we are now actually seeing that in our very own City, there is a path that can take our children from grade school to college and beyond…

The path is called “KIPP Through College,” otherwise known as KTC.

KTC is a special initiative available to every Newark child who attends a KIPP New Jersey public charter school through middle school whether they choose to graduate from KIPP’s high school, Newark Collegiate Academy, or attend another high school.   Like Link’s “elective” program, it is free for all its public students.

KTC is a comprehensive program that gives students the support and resources they need to earn acceptance into college, perform well and graduate with a degree. The success can be seen at KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy, where 92 of its graduates in 2015 enrolled in college – nearly double the number of any other Newark schools at the time. Over the past six years, KIPP New Jersey’s KTC has matched Newark public school students to colleges such as Swarthmore, Smith, UVA, Duke, Brandeis, Haverford, Barnard, George Washington University, Boston College, Howard, NC State, and Rutgers.

KTC calls it a ‘K-16’ program because it serves children from the time they start at KIPP all the way through graduation at a 4-year university. You read it correctly, even after the child graduates from their school, KIPP stays with the student to make sure they graduate from college.

Courtney Lok, a Newarker, KIPP TEAM Academy alumnus, and one of the many KIPP students that have benefitted from KTC stated:

“Now that I’m a teacher, I have a deeper respect for the profession and for the teachers I had at KIPP TEAM. I love that they were able to do this in a community like Newark because we need more schools like this with committed teachers.”

Here’s how KTC works.

Trained, full-time and part-time KTC mentors and teachers provide personalized support for every student who attends one of KIPP’s eight public charter schools in Newark. The one-on-one work is focused on helping every one of their students achieve their higher education dreams. Every student has an advisor from the second they join the schools. First, when the child is an early age, they focus on building an educational structure, and a strong emphasis is made on attending college. The child’s parent or guardian is also brought into the discussion to make sure they are aware of KTC as a support mechanism.

As the Newark student gets closer to college age, he or she is provided application assistance, interview strategies, SAT prep courses and even college visits.

After they’re enrolled in college, KIPP’s KTC program also makes sure every student who needs it receives additional aid in the form of academic advising, assistance navigating financial aid, enrichment opportunities like internships or study abroad programs, book stipends and college transition prep

Counselors often visit students at their college campuses to offer advice and support to give students the best possible chance at completing their degree.

For students who are interested in non-college career options, KTC offers a “Pathways Scholarship” that supports students who are interested in building a sustainable career through licensing and trade options that don’t offer financial assistance.

You would think KTC would be available only in private schools…but let’s be clear –

KTC is a public school initiative!

KTC support is provided to our Newark public students!

2 Cedar is provided a billion dollars a year, but we would be lucky to have one qualified guidance counselor in a district high school – at the most.

Chris Eley, KIPP NJ alum and Founder of the non-profit K Heart, had this to say about the program:

“KTC always has its doors open. That feeling of accessibility has helped to shape our actions at K-Heart. The idea that your work is never really done in positively affecting the community is crucial to success. The KTC family works overtime to ensure the alums have access to as many resources as possible. I can call KTC counselor Mr. Forde anytime, and I can expect an answer or a follow-up call. He’s on point. Simple as that.”

Another word of praise comes from KIPP NJ CEO Ryan Hill, who stated:

“KIPP kids are our kids for life. As soon as they are admitted to our school, we visit each student’s house and make a solemn promise to help them get to and through college. And we stay with them until they have that diploma in hand or have begun a career that will enable them to be self-sufficient. KIPP NJ believes that every Newark parent, every Newark student, should have a choice, that they should be empowered to change their life and should not be forced to accept the status quo.”

KIPP is just one example – out of many – where public charter schools are paving the way to a bright future for the education of our Newark students.

So the question The Newark Report has for our readers, especially Mayor Baraka, who has shown himself to be an active reader of our little publication is…

Shouldn’t opportunities like KTC be available to all of our Newark students?

For Newark parents, the answer is yes – of course.

Programs like KTC show us all that Newark’s public charter schools are not our parent’s or grandparent’s Newark public schools – instead, these schools are creating high expectations and providing a real opportunity for our kids.

Wouldn’t having a program like KTC in more schools create more opportunity for our children?

Let’s be clear, again – the facts don’t lie – rather than expand a program like this to more kids in Newark, Mayor Baraka is aggressively fighting against it.

Most recently, Mayor Baraka released in Politico a letter he wrote to Newark Charter School Fund’s Mashea Ashton. As you can see in the letter, Mayor Baraka continues to focus on pitting parents against each other, rather than celebrating the great things that are happening in our public schools.

The Mayor could be bringing people together and celebrating our successes. And most of all, could be taking a practical approach to our education system, rather than an ideological approach to education.

He continues to show a disregard for Newark’s public charter schools – and most of all he continues to seem content blaming the thousands and thousands and thousands of Newark’s public charter parents for the financial mess at City Hall and 2 Cedar.

In Newark, many of us are well aware of the school to prison pipeline – in our district schools. It is the very reason many of Newark’s own elected officials conveniently find school alternatives for their children. It is the very reason thousands and thousands and thousands of parents demand public school options in Newark.

Programs like KTC are making sure Newark kids, our kids, get into college. And the results are working. Enough said.

Expanding charter schools and programs like KTC, making sure more kids have access to KTC should not even be debated…but in Newark, for some reason, it is. God help us.