Clinton School of Public Service Dean Skip Rutherford asked that I mention a project by one of his students, Benjamin Croner, to compile information on the alumni of Arkansas Governor’s School, begun by Gov. Bill Clinton in 1980 to provide a summer program for talented high school students.
Some 13,000 students have attended the six-week program, held every year at Hendrix College.
The project should provide not only a means to continue communications between Governor’s School and alumni, but also provide some solid evidence of the correlation between Governor’s School attendance and later achievement.
I have a soft spot for Governor’s School. My late mother-in-law, Martha Bass, a gifted and talented education specialist at the state Education Department, was instrumental in its beginning. She was on the front lines when it came under attack in the early years from conservatives for subject matter they deemed objectionable. Knowledge IS a dangerous thing. That sort of pressure never ends. I’m reminded of when the school was forced in 2005 to bend to Huckabee administration outrage over a reading from “Angels in America” by deeming it beyond a 16-year-old’s maturity level.
Every year in the Arkansas Times Academic All-Star competition, Governor’s School is regularly cited by many nominees as the most important achievement of the rising seniors’ young lives. For students from small towns with limited high school curricula, the exposure not just to enrichment classes but to dozens of kids like themselves is often eye-opening.
Alumni can request a survey to participate by writing AGSAlumniProject@hendrix.edu