Lebron James Is Opening a School and That Is a Good Thing

 By Erik Drost [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Erik Drost [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andrew Pillow

Being one of the better passing small forwards in the league, LeBron James has recorded more than his fair share of assists on the court. According to this latest news, he’s going to start racking up assists off the court too.

LeBron James plans to open his new “I Promise” school in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. According to LeBron, opening this school was one the most important things he has ever done:

“Besides having three kids and marrying my wife, putting my mom in a position where she never has to worry about anything ever again for the rest of her life, this is right up there,” James told media. “Championships, MVPs, I mean points, rebounds, and assists, that stuff if whatever. But for me to be able to open up a school and give back to my inner city, so many kids that I know because I was those kids.”

While this move is positive, there are some people in the anti-school choice movement who criticize any “non-traditional” school format. Here are a couple things to put those people’s fears at ease:

1.    It’s still a public school

Unfortunately, I have gotten accustomed to having to say this in regards to charter schools, but this school actually is a public school. This school was created in partnership with LeBron James’s foundation.

2.    LeBron James has a really good track record

For as maligned as James is in sports media, he has virtually done everything right throughout his career. If you ignore “The Decision” then you essentially have nothing negative to say about him. Even if his TV special rubbed you the wrong way, you have to admit there are very few character issues to worry about with LeBron.  No criminal record, or off the court issues what so ever. He had never even been ejected from a game until a couple of weeks ago. If his personal life is any indication, we can expect his school to be on the up and up… which is perhaps the biggest complaint about the non-traditional school models and celebrity “foundations” in general.

3.    Having his name attached to the school matters

Some people dismiss anything celebrities do as tax write-offs or vanity projects. In many cases that may be true; however, given the fact that LeBron James is a public figure with aspirations after basketball, it stands to reason that he wants this school to do well. Such a powerful ally often comes in handy for an institution.

For example: I bet this school won’t have trouble finding money for new technology. I bet they won’t have trouble finding guest speakers on career day. Given LeBron’s popularity with the youth, I bet they won’t have problems finding students that want to attend either.

LeBron James’s school is probably not a panacea to completely fix or even overhaul the Akron public school system, but it is hard for me to imagine how the youth that attend I Promise wouldn’t benefit from having such a powerful advocate. LeBron James opening this school is a good idea, and I hope that this encourages other well-off celebrities and sports stars to take a more active role in their own communities.  


Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.