NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is following the lead of another sports legend, Andre Agassi, and throwing his hat into the education ring. The Star-Telegram reports that Sanders' application to open a charter school in Texas was one of the eight approved this Friday. Prime Prep Academy plans to enroll 650 students at two campuses, Fort Worth and Dallas.
Sanders is working with Uplift Fort Worth and will begin classes this fall for kindergartners and through sixth grade. The schools will expand to 12th grade in coming years.
The Texas Board of Eduction approved the charter in an 8-4 vote, but not without first questioning both the school's academic plans and Sanders' involvement. According to the Texas Tribune, board members expressed concern that the chosen curriculum, an online system called CSCOPE, wasn't sufficiently rigorous. Board member Davis Knight was worried that Sanders' involvement might detract from the school's purpose.
She said she had to "wrestle with myself to keep from penalizing opportunities for students because of the celebrity involved" but concluded that "there are probably more resources" coming to the students because of it.
Pat Hardy, who spoke on the phone with the Star-Telegram, said that she had been reassured by the efforts the CSCOPE writers had taken in the past several years to improve their program and to get it closely aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum. The TEKS covers subjects like math, science, social studies and art that comprise state's educational standards.
Sanders himself said he was inspired to get involved in education after his experience running a youth athletic league.
He told The Dallas Morning News that part of his inspiration to start the charter school three years ago was he watching 1,200 kids try out: "I sat up in the top of the bleachers and said, âThis would be wonderful if we would educate these kids. We could marry the two. Why can't we do such a thing?'"