Yesterday, I took another tour of a high school using the career academy model – Whites Creek High School. Overall, the tour was very informative, and I am very impressed with the progress being made at the school. However, the experience has inspired me to present a thought to you about overall performance of our school systems, and how has inequity solidified itself in the system.
I am a graduate of Whites Creek – class of 1989. In my graduating class, we have a Harvard lawyer, the youngest African-American Nashville judge in history, a full professor at the University of Utah, a lawyer for the state of Tennessee (now deceased), surgeons and doctors, engineers and educators, vice presidents and pharmacists, and pro athletes – one with a Super Bowl ring. This was a predominately African-American population – 75%. Our class size is nearly the size is nearly the size of the current student population. I graduated number 16, and I remember my friends and I being upset about not making a 32 on the ACT.
Fast-forward 22 years later, and the percentage of this population that scores above a 21 at this same school is 6% - point zero, six. While I am grateful of the hard work of Marc Hill and the Nashville Chamber, Dr. Register and Jay Steele, the current principal of Whites Creek and others, I am at a loss as to what actually happened to the school. More important, I don’t know what happened to the school system. Granted I’ve only been back in the area for only seven years, and it may be out of line for me to question this matter. But, what changed in our approach, our view of education, and the students we are serving?
I think we are looking at this thing totally wrong - totally wrong. For a prosperous city like this, this is a scary reality.