Little Rock Superintendent Jermall Wright will ask the school district board at its meeting next week to revisit its goal of increasing by 5% every five years the percentage of students who are enrolled in career and technical education courses.
“A lot of work has been done to this end in a few days,” Wright said at a forum Thursday at Pulaski on the grounds of the United Methodist Church. “We will make sure that this is a goal that we want to continue to pursue in our area.”
The decision to ask the board to revise the 5% goal comes as some Parkview Magnet Faculty High School and parents have taken to social media platforms in recent days to object to possible changes in the long-term emphasis on arts and sciences at the school. focus on delivering skills and bringing unique course offerings to schools.
The possible changes are largely the result of the county’s efforts to strengthen curriculum-themed academies at each of Pulaski County’s traditional public high schools.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about career paths and career-technical education,” Wright said. “When we hear words like career-technical education, we or I automatically go back and think about crafts like welding and auto-mechanic. That’s part of CTE but there’s another part of CTE that comes out in the most technical areas. .
“CTE courses aren’t just for kids who don’t go to college,” he said, citing the biomedical science academy at Southwest High School.
He called career-technical education “far and wide.”
The county effort, known as Central Arkansas Academy, is a joint venture between the Little Rock Regional Chamber and four Lapiculi, North Rock, Pulaski County Special and Jacksonville/North Pulaski schools.
Chambers and district leaders have been working since early 2019 to adapt the Ford Next Generation learning model to use a curriculum focus to teach academics. The model has been used in dozens of school systems across the nation, including those in Nashville, Tenn., and Louisville, Ky.
The model – delayed in its implementation in Arkansas due to the covid-19 pandemic – calls for an introductory seminar for the ninth grade who then chooses an academy – courses or programs of study – for the higher grades, which can include internships. industry and acquisition certifications.
Plans at Parkview call for the establishment of a University of the Sciences and for the dedication of an Applied Academy.
“Students have the opportunity to specialize in pathways that include current skills courses … but also digital/technology-driven additions,” the school’s website states. “As a student of the University of the Academy of Sciences, the rigor of the existing pathway will be increased to include a focus on medical sciences, environmental and ecological sciences, and scientific research and technical writing.”
Wright, the district’s superintendent since July, in a widely distributed memo Wednesday acknowledged the “distress and panic” in the Parkview community but said “first of all, the plan is to withdraw Parkview’s magnet program.”
He said the formation of the Ford Next Generation Learning Style Academy in Parkview was delayed because of the school’s record of success.
“We recognize the need for our students to prepare for the 21st century while also preserving the programs that make our school unique,” he said in the memo. “We are examining the customer to decide whether to implement the three university courses required for the magnet course (seven courses total), the three university courses required for the magnet course (10 for our total course), or a combination of both of these options. .
“Either way, the magnet programs will still be intact, and students will have more elective options (that is, additional Advanced Placement classes, a magnet-related technical education career path, or an elective in a completely different magnet program).
“We value the voices of our stakeholders and are working very hard to include these voices at every level,” the statement also said, adding that there will be set times and times for parents to learn more about Parkview’s options.
“One hundred percent of students at Parkview assigned to a magnet area will be assigned to science, choral music, orchestra, band, visual arts, drama, or dance. Students in the selected magnet area must take two classes in that area each year. In addition to the regular curriculum outlined by the public education department .