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Monday, June 17, 2024

COMMENTARY – Empowering communities: The transformative potential of microschools for Black students

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As a career-long educator who firmly believes in student-centered learning environments that empower communities and families, I know we must advance educational equity with innovation. If we continue to do the same things we have always done, we will continue to get unacceptable results, especially for Black children. Microschools are an innovative solution to closing the opportunity gap for Black students. Microschools are small, personalized learning environments that prioritize individualized attention and community building. These schools can potentially provide Black students with the support and resources they need to succeed academically and socially while preparing them for advanced college and career readiness.

One of the primary benefits of microschools is their ability to provide students with advanced college and career readiness opportunities. In traditional schools, due to scheduling constraints, students may not have access to internships, apprenticeships or other options that can help them gain valuable skills and experience. This can be particularly challenging for Black students who may face additional barriers to accessing these opportunities. In microschools, however, students can gain access to these opportunities and build their social capital, which can help them succeed in college and beyond.

Another benefit of microschools is their focus on student voice and choice. In traditional schools, students may have less control over their education and feel disengaged. In microschools, students can take ownership of learning and have a say in how and what they are taught. This can help them feel more engaged in their education and motivated to succeed.

At Purdue Polytechnic High Schools (PPHS), we recognize the potential of microschools to prepare students for advanced college and career readiness while providing them with a sense of agency over their education. That is why we have decided to pilot a microschool program in fall 2023. Our microschool program will prioritize the needs of all students and provide them with the support and resources they need to succeed academically and socially while also preparing them for the future of work.

I believe that microschools are a powerful force for educational liberation, particularly for PPHS students and families from Black, indigenous and other communities of color. The intimate atmosphere of these schools allows for strong community engagement and empowerment, which is essential in creating culturally relevant and supportive learning experiences. Furthermore, microschools are the truest form of community schools, as they are built in partnership with local community members who understand and appreciate the cultural context in which they operate. This grassroots foundation ensures that microschools prioritize inclusivity and equity, ultimately fostering transformative educational experiences that uplift and empower traditionally marginalized communities.

At PPHS, we are committed to piloting a high-quality microschool program in fall 2023 that centers educational equity by prioritizing the needs of all students and providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed. While microschools are not often accessible to high school-aged students, Black and Latino(a) or low-income students, PPHS is well-positioned to provide this opportunity to students who may not have access to it otherwise. We started the process to reinvent high school to prepare students for the future of work with our two existing PPHS campuses in Indianapolis, and this microschool is another huge step in the right direction.

For more news courtesy of the Indianapolis Recorder, click here. You can also check out the Indiana Minority Business Magazine by clicking here.

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