Omaha Public Schools Responds to Pathways Program Concerns
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Ahead of their Tuesday night board meeting, the Omaha Public Schools issued a statement on their proposed program for academies and ways to respond to parents’ concerns in the district.
From autumn, OPS plans to introduce the “College and Career Academies and Pathways” program. Under the proposed plan, freshman academies would be established at every high school in the district, focusing on areas such as business, teaching and engineering. OPS says that every incoming student will choose an “academy” or “path” and explore careers and focus on skills. Students would continue to take electives and core classes such as math and science.
OPS defines academies as “smaller learning communities with a career focus. Groups of students with a similar professional interest attend classes together. Career-oriented courses continue in a series from one to the next. “
Pathways are defined as “a series of four or more classes that focus on a group of related careers or clusters. Students on a trail take courses with a variety of other students who have professional interests. “
The change would also mean that all high schools would also switch to block planning.
Concerned parents say the district was not transparent enough in planning and launching the program, and they do not believe that students should be forced to choose a possible career at such a young age. At 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, an online petition on the matter had nearly 1,200 supporters.
The school says the program will benefit students and set them up for future success and made the following statement on Tuesday morning.
“As we anticipate what it will take to prepare Omaha Public Schools students for their future, we appreciate the opportunity to continue our educational and public relations work regarding academies and pathways. We are committed to open communication and look forward to future opportunities to engage families. “
The meeting of the OPS school board is scheduled for Tuesday, 6.30 p.m.
According to the agenda, the board will accept the approval of the Freshman Academies program recommended by the administration. If approved, it would roll out Freshman Academies in every high school in the district starting this fall, including the district’s two new high schools opening in the 2022-23 school year.
The agenda reads: “On April 15, 2021, the administration will update the Executive Board with its plan for ongoing employee and family engagement in relation to the Academy and Path components. Family and staff involvement will take place during the remainder of the school year and summer, with staff leaving the board with the remaining components of the Academy and Pathway programs for approval on September 9, 2021. “
After several hours of discussions and hearings from concerned parents on Tuesday evening, the OPS School Board voted 6: 3 in favor of promoting the Freshman Academies in the fall. This is the first step in the implementation of the broader Academies and Paths program, which aims to extend the program beyond the first year of study.
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