LeBron’s New School Helps Put Out a Fire While Jalen Rose Whines That King James Didn’t Invent Water

Imagine sharing a loaf of bread with someone who is hungry. Meanwhile, another person with bread is whispering behind you that your compassion isn’t authentic, because, after all, you didn’t actually invent bread.

Sounds silly? Petty? Because it is.

Former basketball great Jalen Rose stands 6 feet 8 inches, but he made himself appear small this week by continually pointing out that LeBron James isn’t the first athlete to open a school.


We get it, Jalen. You founded a charter school. That is awesome. But now you can’t celebrate what LeBron has done, too?

What we know is that Black students don’t have enough access to quality schools. We know nationally that less than 60 percent of Black boys graduate on time. While a lot of us out here are calling for a full court press on educational inequity, apparently there are some who would prefer to snipe at people doing the work.

Interestingly enough, Jalen acknowledges that the situation is dire.

“In the United States, the quality of your education is determined by your zip code.”

Great, Jalen. That’s a fact. A brutally oppressive fact that is especially prevalent in the lives of students of color. We appreciate that you have also built a school (something that you highlighted repeatedly during your ill-advised rant). We appreciate anyone, athlete, or otherwise, who are committed to supporting students in their communities—even you, Jalen.

But, chill, bruh.

Although we don’t know if the school LeBron built will bring about fantastic, sustained outcomes for students, I’m very happy for the students of Akron and I am deeply appreciative of what James did and does in his hometown. It’s consistent with many of his other socially and racially conscious acts. The I Promise school is also built on a foundation that demonstrates the school as an integral part of any community revitilization effort. Perhaps Pennsylvania’s legislators are paying attention. Never mind.

And while we shouldn’t have to wait for entertainers to open schools that constitutionally are the responsibility of state governments, we applaud efforts to provide more access to our students. May more folks with means lean in heavily on the issue of educational injustice.

Shade not necessary.


Sharif El-Mekki
Sharif El-Mekki
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.


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