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Matchbook Learning: An interview with Commissioner Gore

Carl D Black Sr

El'ad Nichols-Kaufman, Writer

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IPS voted on 2/21 to allow Matchbook, a corporation which runs failing schools for different school districts, to proceed to run their innovation school program. IPS school board commissioner Elizabeth Gore spoke out against this act. A journalist from the Echo interviewed her about what innovation schools are, and why she doesn’t think Matchbook should run them.


IPS school board commissioner and board secretary Elizabeth Gore

Interview has been lightly modified for clarity.

El’ad Nichols-Kaufman: Can you explain quickly what innovation schools are?

Elizabeth Gore: Innovation Schools are schools that are either being launched now, they are schools that have been consistently underperforming and according to the students outcomes the district makes a decision that the schools will be relaunched with an external partner. So, that’s basically what innovation schools are.

El’ad: So what degree of control does the district and the school board have over these innovation schools?

Gore: OK, we have quite a bit of control over those schools. Those schools have an agreement with the district to be able to provide services to our students. So, the board would be the one that, there are some, looking at your academic progress. We would be the ones making the decision whether that particular school would need to remain an innovation school, because we want to see differences. This school, remember, as an innovation school, has come about  because there were some needs there, academically, that the school was either failing, or wanted to get a different way of operating the school. So we would look at it to make sure that they are providing quality education to our students.

El’ad: So, how did the district choose Matchbook to run the innovation schools?

Gore: School 63 was a school that had been failing, with an F mark, for five years. Knowing that there needed to be something done, IPS put out a need for these schools (school partners) to apply to IPS, to see what they could do to help make this school be not a failing school. From that, they chose Matchbook. There were several people, they said. Well, in this instance they said matchbook was the only one that applied. So they interviewed them and found that they (IPS) felt they (Matchbook) would be a perfect match to take over school 63 to improve the academics at that school.

El’ad: Alright, what do you think about Matchbook?

Gore: From the information that I’ve read about matchbook there was nothing that showed me that they could do the job. There were no statistics proving that matchbook could help school 63, and in that aspect I felt I could not turn over school 63 to a school partner that had not shown any accountability from information I had read googled and information from other people. They had shown no sustainability for improving the student’s academic growth, and I just could not, in my own consciousness, want our children to fail again, and so in that aspect I could not vote for Matchbook to be one of the partners to take over school 63.

El’ad: So, what exactly does it mean that matchbook has been discontinued by 2 previous school districts?

Gore: Well, it basically meant that they had not, there were some financial problems that Matchbook had had previously. There were some other concerns that people had when they were at the schools. The schools did not meet the performance goals they had promised them, that they were going to meet, and so they were dismissed from those particular schools. (Detroit and Newark school districts.) That is one of the reasons I didn’t feel comfortable having Matchbook as one of the schools.

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Matchbook Learning: An interview with Commissioner Gore