Pulaski County, Arkansas - Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL)
On January 11th, 2019 the Little Rock Regional Chamber, in partnership with the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District, Little Rock School District, North Little Rock School District and the Pulaski County Special School District, announced the launch of an exploratory study into Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL), the education initiative of the Ford Motor Company Fund.
NGL represents an inclusive, comprehensive community initiative that brings together educators, employers, and community leaders to implement a proven model for transforming secondary schools, which ultimately improves the regional workforce development system.
The results of that report were released May 1, 2019 and include a conclusion that the four Pulaski County public school districts, along with community and business partners, are in a strong position to undertake this transformation to improve student outcomes for all students in the districts.
According to the report, “Based on our research, observations, and analysis, we believe Pulaski County districts are at a unique juncture and on the verge of community-connected education transformation. The local and regional workforce presents various high-wage, high-skill opportunities for students. Community leaders, educators (secondary and post-secondary), and employers in Pulaski County are interested in transformation and see this moment in time as the stars aligning for the change that this community needs.”
The report, which was underwritten by Entergy Arkansas, was informed by data collected over a four day visit by the NGL team to the community. They held meetings with school leaders, teachers, parents, students and alumni from all the high schools; district and state education officials; school and community advisory board presidents; teachers association representatives; leaders from UA Pulaski Tech; state legislators; chambers of commerce; and business and community leaders.
The study also outlines an inclusive community planning process for the districts to follow should they choose to move forward with this initiative. These include community visioning sessions and a representative master planning committee of over one hundred business and community members who would, in partnership with teachers and district officials, help write a master plan to guide the transformation efforts of the individual districts.
Over the next few months, representatives from each of the four districts will begin working through the process of identifying if and how they elect to proceed with the report’s recommended path forward.
“The partnership with Ford NGL, the Little Rock Regional Chamber, and our colleagues in LRSD, NLRSD, and PCSSD will transform opportunities for our scholars in the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District and all of Pulaski County. Further, this endeavor represents the commitment of multiple organizations to enhance career and college opportunities for all scholars in Pulaski County. JNPSD looks forward to the partnership and continued progress with Ford NGL.”
– Dr. Bryan Duffie, superintendent of the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District
“I am really excited about the prospect of moving forward with the Ford NGL solutions. It is critical for all the Pulaski County districts to come together to better prepare and support our students. This model will deliver real, relevant learning that will create a win for students, parents, educators, and the business community.”
– Mike Poore, superintendent of the Little Rock School District
“Our goal is to help students to become successful, productive adults by any means possible. We appreciate the representatives from Ford NGL who came into our school to gather good information that can be used to better prepare our students for careers.”
– Bobby Acklin, superintendent of the North Little Rock School District.
"We look forward to working with our colleagues in the other public school districts of Pulaski County as we engage in Phase II of NGL. We're also excited about the continued substantial engagement of the business community and their efforts to provide our young people viable and empowering educational experiences."
– Dr. Charles McNulty, superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District
“This historic partnership between the four districts has been tremendously energizing and productive. There are pockets of real excellence in each of these districts and schools, and we believe Ford NGL is the right model to help scale and spread that good work for the benefit of all students in the county.”
– Jay Chesshir, president and CEO of the Little Rock Regional Chamber
“Achieving educational excellence for our future generations is critically important for moving Arkansas forward. As a part of the business community invested in the educational and economic development success of our state, we saw this as a great opportunity to facilitate the progress and potential of our students and workforce.”
– Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas
Frequently Asked Questions
Ford Next Generation Learning is a collaborative community-driven approach to achieve the following outcomes:
- young people prepared for college, careers, lifelong learning, and leadership;
- increased community prosperity shared by all;
- a strengthened talent pipeline;
- educational equity and justice for all; and
- the capacity to contribute and go further
Ford Next Generation Learning comprises a network of mutually supportive communities that encourage one another to continuously improve. They seek opportunities to innovate and go further in their quest to increase student achievement, improve workforce and economic development outcomes, and ultimately achieve community prosperity.
Ford NGL mobilizes educators, local employers and community leaders to prepare a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school ready for college, careers and life – prepared to compete successfully in our modern economy.
Three distinct but interconnected strands comprise the ford NGL Framework. These strands enable whole communities to design and carry out a long-term plan for revitalizing education:
Transforming Teaching and Learning:
Creating meaningful learning experiences that enable students to learn and apply academic, 21st century, and technical knowledge and skills to real-world challenges and that equip them for success in college and careers.
Transforming the Secondary School Experience:
Creating and maintaining the career and interest-themed academies and the collaborative culture, structures, and practices necessary to transform teaching and learning and to capitalize on community engagement.
Transforming Business and Civic Engagement:
Engaging employers, educators, and community leaders in building and sustaining transformed secondary schools that promote community growth and prosperity by preparing students for future work and citizenship.
Ford NGL is a unique and comprehensive community initiative that brings together educators, employers and community leaders to implement a proven model for transforming secondary schools. These transformed schools infuse the high expectations and academic rigor of college preparatory academic programs with the real-world relevance and rigor of career and technical education. Students choose career pathways across a variety of sectors that drive economic growth in their communities. Ford NGL uses the power of workplace relevance and business relationships to excite young people about education and to prepare them for success in college, careers and life.
Communities benefit from access to the Ford NGL network, which cultivates a spirit of sharing and innovation aimed at improving the practices used across our communities. Communities are able to cut down the amount of time and money it takes them to transform their secondary school experience by learning from the network of other communities who have been in their shoes. Each Ford NGL community has a dedicated Ford NGL National Advocate and team Coach, who supports and guides communities as they develop and implement a Ford NGL Master Plan to scale and sustain a career academy network and prepare students for success in college, careers and life. Ongoing access to innovative approaches that emerge from the network helps communities develop the local capacity to sustain community engagement and continue to transform the high school experience.
The NGL program prepares students for life after high school partially by involving businesses in the education process. Businesses partner with NGL schools in various ways. They might hold occasional chats with students at lunch or even offer mentorships. In Nashville, Tenn., the first Ford Next Generation Learning community, some businesses have even installed centers in the schools that employ students. NGL business partners can also offer teacher externships during the summer so educators can learn how traditional school subjects are applied in the workforce.
The process begins with a Phase I assessment by the NGL experts, which includes a thorough analysis of the local schools and regional economy. The Phase I assessment for Pulaski County was conducted in January 2019. The results of that assessment are being used for Phase II (Envision), which includes a design session with the Superintendents and senior district administrators. Once approved by the District School Boards and Community Advisory Board, the Phase II process will continue with community engagement to identify the qualities of an ideal graduate. Once Phase II is complete, then Phase III (Plan) begins with local planning committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., making data-driven determinations as a group. Planning committees for Pulaski County have not been selected at this point. Public solicitation for committee members will occur if the districts elect to move forward with Phases II & III.
At this point, each of the four superintendents have committed to have their district participate in a Phase I assessment paid for by the business community (completed in January 2019) through the Little Rock Regional Chamber. Additionally, the districts have committed to conduct the initial Design Session as part of Phase II (Envision) and will fund that among the districts. Any decisions beyond the Design Session will require School Board and Community Advisory Board approval, which we will be seeking in May 2019.
No. The Ford NGL model can be applied individually in each district. Consolidation of the districts is not necessary at any point during the NGL process and has not been part of the discussion. The agreement to explore this model together, is simply an acknowledgement, that common challenges and opportunities exist across all four districts, and pursuing solutions as partners can lead to expedited and scalable success for all.
As the districts move forward beyond Phase I, an inclusive and collaborative local planning process would begin. Several committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., would work with Ford NGL experts and district leadership to craft plans for small learning communities within the existing high schools. Determinations on the scale and type of academies will be left to those community planning committees. For more information on NGL academies in other communities please view the following video:
Phase I was underwritten by Entergy Arkansas through the Little Rock Regional Chamber as part of their investment in the educational and economic development success of Arkansas. These dollars cover the time and expertise of the Ford NGL team.
At the moment, no decision to create academies has been made. Phase I is merely an exploratory study of the four school districts in Pulaski County. This question would not be tackled until Phases II and III should the districts elect to move forward. At that time, several committees, comprised of community stakeholders, parents, teachers, district leadership, business leaders, faith-based leaders, elected officials, etc., would work with Ford NGL experts and district leadership to craft the plan.
If you are a business leader, elected official, or other community stakeholder interested in participating on a community committee during the Phase II (Envision) or Phase III (Plan) processes, please reach out to the Little Rock Regional Chamber at 501-374-2001.