Critics call out Akron, Ohio’s I Promise School, created by LeBron James, for failing to deliver on its promises.
James’s foundation was supposed to provide funding for a new kind of school to assist in educating kids in his hometown, but standardized test results reveal that it hasn’t lived up to its potential. School board members in Akron are now asking whether James’ efforts to reform and revitalize education were more of a PR stunt to boost his image as a philanthropist than anything else.
Derrick Hall, president of the school board in Akron, Ohio, expressed his “disappointment.”
The basketball star swooped into Akron with much fanfare and hype. Now that the photo ops and adulation are over, the project’s purpose has not been fulfilled.
Last week, members of the Akron school board started looking more closely at the I Promise school, and they discovered few actual academic accomplishments. Two of I Promise’s most significant categories of students—those who identify as Black and those who identify as having a disability—now test in the lowest 5% in the state, putting the school on the Ohio Department of Education’s list of schools needing targeted assistance.
In a last-ditch effort to raise I Promise’s test results, the Ohio Department of Education plans to provide even more state funds to the school. The Akron School District has appointed a new principal for the next school year.
Akron School District Director of School Improvement Keith Liechty-Clifford noted that James’s school’s website features lofty claims about the significance of education on a page promoting the “I Promise Method.”
The claim is that the LeBron James Family Foundation is changing the trajectory of the inner city by empowering children and their families through education.
Board President Derrick Hall attempted to deflect criticism away from LeBron James’ foundation by stating that the blame is on the shoulders of school administrators.
Hall said It is not the foundation’s role to teach the pupils.
But where does the responsibility of a foundation called I Promise begin and end?