Culture shapes opinions and perceptions, both obviously and inherently, and is the foundation for understanding within a cultural group. Some artifacts are transcendent and very enjoyable; for example, playing “name that tune” with old songs or TV show themes honors the nostalgic memories of a group that shares a common cultural context. Conversely, cultural perceptions can hinder understanding and, therefore, become obstacles to bridging intercultural gaps. Concurrent enrollment is an important opportunity that has the power to catapult a student beyond the bounds of their perceived cultural or socioeconomic limitations. However, for this idea to be effective, school districts must create a mindset that concurrent enrollment should be for every student. If leaders create an environment of elitism around concurrent enrollment and claim victory when only 30% of the students are eligible to participate, then the district’s leadership has failed to recognize a growth opportunity for all students.
Advanced Placement (AP) programs have been critiqued by multiple authors for the notable lack of minorities and students who are lower on the socioeconomic spectrum. The advocates of AP programs will defend their demographics by stating that these students do not desire to participate in AP programs. There is some truth to the previous statement because if their family’s cultural experience includes the idea that AP is an elite program which is not “for them,” then they will self-eliminate. Nevertheless, the intent of this article is not to bash AP programs, but rather to highlight how every student could embark on a pathway to success through inclusive concurrent enrollment. A school district must be intentional from enrollment in kindergarten through the first opportunity to qualify for concurrent enrollment if they want to create equitable access for every student. Furthermore, a school district must be deliberate about building cultural capacity through the inclusion of all
stakeholders in the process. Minority and economically disadvantaged families should be introduced to the idea of concurrent enrollment programs in elementary school. Students who do not have the opportunity to envision concurrent enrollment as a goal early on may feel inadequate when presented the option in high school. Early introduction to the idea would defuse this high stakes environment.
The Social Discipline Window, which was first introduced by Glasser in 1966, is a construct that can guide any student to adopt a growth mindset towards concurrent enrollment. It shows that a balance between accountability and support is restorative and can encourage participatory learning and decision-making.
The critical questions to consider are:
- Are we doing things “TO” our students through high accountability and low caring?
- Are we being negligent by “NOT” caring or establishing accountability?
- Are we being too permissive by doing everything “FOR” our students?
- Are we setting accountable expectations and providing caring support to work “WITH” our students?
If school districts resolve to work “WITH” their students from the first day of kindergarten to put them on a path to be eligible for concurrent enrollment, then it can truly be a program that has the capability to launch every student toward success.
About the Authors
Louis Fletcher is the Director of Culture and Services of Falcon School District 49 in Peyton, Colorado. The Director of Culture and Services is responsible for developing and implementing district-wide education, outreach and training initiatives to promote and sustain a culture of inclusion, equity and respect.
Peter Hilts began serving as the Chief Education Officer of Falcon School District 49 in July of 2013 after ten years in significant leadership roles at The Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. Peter specializes in facilitating major initiatives such as innovation initiatives, organizational reform and strategic planning for schools and districts.