Former Little Rock School Board member Jim Ross’ Facebook page, Our Community, Our Schools, frequently publishes unsourced, insidery district tidbits (along with a lot of advocacy). Yesterday, he wrote that the district planned to kill the science magnet element of Little Rock Parkview, which is formally known as Parkview Arts Science Magnet High School. Ross reported that Parkview would instead embrace the Ford Next Generation Learning model, which the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce has promoted and all school districts in Pulaski County have embraced. The idea, according to Ross, is that Parkview would become a Ford NGL school and focus on the technical aspect of the arts.
I asked the LRSD the following:
What can you tell me about Parkview? Is the arts and science magnet program ending? Will Parkview become a Ford NGL school? If so, when was the decision made? If so, why would a move like this happen just before a school board is in place?
And received this statement:
The Little Rock School District (LRSD) has been working on developing career academies with the business community and other districts in Pulaski County for well over a year as part of the introduction to the Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) model. We are excited about the level of staff and community engagement which has included stakeholder visioning sessions, meetings and public forums.
LRSD has not formalized or presented its final recommendation for proposed academies. The presentation outlining the District’s academy approach to support the Academies of Central Arkansas will be shared during the November Community Advisory Board meeting.
Rumors that the science program and courses at Parkview are being discontinued are false. LRSD has a responsibility to meet graduation requirements at all of our campuses, and Parkview will continue to offer both AP and general science course options.
Planning and preparation for LRSD’s district-wide initiative will allow all campuses to maintain, and actually increase rigorous course offerings, while at the same time matching student interests and passions to prepare them for their brightest futures.
Superintendent Mike Poore has offered to explain more in depth in an interview with me next week, so I look forward to that. But this statement doesn’t exactly refute what Ross reported. And, while it is true that the district has been talking about and planning to employ the Ford NGL model, the emphasis has been on Ford NGL rolling out at Hall and the new Southwest High, not Parkview or Central, where there’s speciality magnet programs already in place.
I’m excited to learn more about Ford NGL and how it’s working or not at Southwest and Hall. I’ve heard a fairly in-depth presentation on it, and I thought it sounded promising. I don’t think it can be dismissed as just another workforce readiness program, or that it can be dismissed simply because the chamber has often been on the wrong side of LRSD issues.
But to unveil anything new, even a program that’s been widely (if broadly) discussed, at what I assume is the last meeting of the Community Advisory Board (which has no authority) after the new school board has been elected but before it’s seated is no way to run a railroad.