Bill Clinton is speaking right now to the 3,000 assembled KIPP teachers, funders, and fans who make up the amazing festival of learning and joy that is KIPP School Summit. He’s utterly gallant, thanking everyone from KIPP’s board and donors to those of us who are watching on big screens from the overflow room. (Hey, I got a *good seat* in the overflow room. I got status.)
He starts with this remarkable thought: public charter schools are part of the laboratory of democracy that the founders envisioned the states being. And Clinton calls out KIPP for its ability to replicate excellence… once again, I suspect he knows a lot of folks’ business as well as the experts do. He calls innovation the fast replication of excellence, which I’m not sure I agree with… aren’t innovation and replication different stages? But I’m quibbling.
Bubba’s expansive brain is on best display when he runs his mental magnet over the best ideas in one discipline after another… genetic mapping has enabled cancer docs to understand problems with dosage in the meds they give to kids… “because we invested in innovation.” These medical professionals “are part of an innovation process that started with firing the human mind.” And more to the point, he says, Skin color, body shape, eye color, everything you can see about a person is located in 0.5% of the genome… “We are 99.5% the same… The reason that KIPP can work is that the circumstances of your birth are not destiny.” And he tells KIPP, “You have done a better job of replicating excellence than anybody I know.”
But Clinton asks why such excellence isn’t more widespread.
“This should be a moment of renaissance in education in America,” Clinton tells the crowd. “I believe in you…. You have proved you can replicate excellence. But it almost imposes an even bigger responsibility on you, both to keep growing, and to keep screaming until people can’t bear to go to sleep at night without giving the children in their charge the opportunities that you have given to children all across America.”
(Photo of KIPP alumni watching Clinton via KIPP)