I’m going to save you the history lesson. You probably already know that Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas is a civil rights monument. It was at the heart of school desegregation in the south in 1957, when the federal government enforced Brown Vs. Board of Education and demanded that nine African-American students be admitted to the school.
A local parent took me to C.H.S. this afternoon to pick up her daughter, who we took for “happy hour” drinks at the Sonic Drive-Thru.
As we’re driving downtown, the daughter started talking about a “class” division at the school. Her points were simple and straightforward. “There’s two schools at Central,” she says. There’s the pre-AP and AP students, and then there’s “the rest.”
This young woman is eagerly seeking a chance to study at a virtual academy because there is just not enough for her at school. She sits in the “regular” history class, but could easily learn at her own pace.
That got me to thinking. After the last government push in 1957 to desegregate, it still needs to happen. We need to be bringing in blended learning models to ensure that every student who graduates graduates with achievement. We need to prepare them for life. But there are forces at play who will resist this change just the same way a former governor did when he stood in the doorway and refused the Little Rock Nine to pass into the building.
There are people out there who are fearful of losing the money that is linked to seat time and the 375 or so school districts throughout the state.
I don’t know the whole history of a person, and I won’t try to judge them for anything. The African-American gentleman who delivered a salad to my room tonight claims that he was “an egghead” who studied a lot at Central, yet he works all day as a chef, maintenance man and delivery person for the hotel.
Is this what is available to The Rest?
How would his high school education have better prepared him, in 1984, if we had the potential then to build a blended learning model into his curriculum studies? Is this what is available to him in Little Rock?
AP kids have resources available to them because it’s a business. People pay for services, and the students who take the courses typically end up well-served by the product and the method.
Having a blended model of curriculum packaged in a multitude of ways and available online, in different time streams, to mix and match, would desegregate students. It would offer opportunity to students who are known as The Rest.
We need to push for desegregating quality from the quantity of students out there, simply because bureaucratic models make the channeling of money and the availability of resources so impossible.
If we can change how budgeting is done, and how costs are established, we can bring to “market” solutions that improve education overall.
And that is noble.