Sean 'Diddy' Combs Isn't the First Celebrity to Open a Charter School
Rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs (A.K.A. P. Diddy or Puff Daddy) is opening a charter school in New York City, according to the Associated Press.
In doing so, Combs joins a small group of celebrities—mostly sports stars by my very unofficial count—who have launched charter schools.
For the uninitiated, charter schools are publicly funded, but independently run schools. Whether an educator or famous athlete, you can open a charter school in 42 states plus Washington D.C., as long as you can convince an authorizer—either a school district, a university, a state agency, or a nonprofit, depending upon your state's law—that you have a solid proposal for a school.
Combs' Capital Preparatory Harlem Charter School will open in the fall and be run by Steve Perry, the founder of a Hartford, Connecticut magnet school, reports the AP.
But Combs is not the first celebrity to open a charter school, or even the first rapper.
Here's a short list I've put together of the handful of other celebrities, mostly athletes, who have waded into the charter school sector, with varying degrees of success:
- Pitbull: The other rapper on my celeb charter school founder shortlist. Pitbull, or Armando Christian Pérez, opened a charter school in Miami in 2013 called Sports Leadership and Management, or SLAM. He also broke ground on a second campus in Las Vegas this past October.
- Deion Sanders: The football Hall of Famer co-founded two Texas charter schools, which were shuttered by the state over financial troubles last year.
- Andre Agassi: The tennis star has become very involved in the charter sector. He not only founded the Las Vegas-based Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, he has also co-founded a charter school facilities fund, basically a business that rents buildings to charter schools. He has also donated money to several other charter schools and networks.
- Kevin Johnson: The former NBA star and current mayor of Sacramento (and husband of former D.C. schools chief and charter school advocate Michelle Rhee) started St. Hope Public Schools, a network of several schools in Sacramento. Johnson was investigated for misusing federal funds at his umbrella organization that runs the schools as well as other nonprofit, community efforts.
- Jalen Rose: The former NBA player and current sports analysist founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy in Detroit in 2011.
Did I miss anyone? If so, please feel free to add them to the comments section below.
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Photo: Sean Combs attends a ceremony in Los Angeles in January. —Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP-File