May 22, 2024

We Need to Give the ‘Gift’ of Education to the Disadvantaged and Communities of Color

Author: Kevin P. Chavous
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Earlier this month, I had the great fortune of attending the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ (NBCSL) 43rd Annual Legislative Conference, of which K12 was sponsor.

There, civil rights activist and attorney Fred Gray was named the 2019 recipient of the Living Legend award, an honor he richly deserves. Most notably, he represented Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and the 14 students of color who were prohibited from attending Tuskegee High School in 1963 (Lee v. Macon County Board of Education).

Gray enabled key leaders of the civil rights
movement to continue their good work, and he also fought for something we must
continue to make progress on today: Making quality education a truly equal
opportunity.   

That’s a core part of our work at K12, where we
strive to meet the individual
needs of every student regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, geographic
location or socioeconomic background.

We’ve been
working toward this goal since 2000, and we’ve come a long way in the nearly 20
years since then, providing school districts and charter schools with online
K-12 curriculum and online career technical education (CTE) in either fully or
partially blended capacities. By the numbers, K12:

  • Has a presence
    in all 50 states
  • Employs over 5,000 teachers, providing
    them with jobs, quality professional development, training and new
    opportunities
  • Supports 120,000
    students currently enrolled in our partner schools, with one million having
    already benefited from this new approach to teaching and learning.

That last bullet point is the one
we’re most proud of, especially considering we welcome a high percentage of academically
at-risk students (below grade level, dropout recovery, or not on track to
graduate), a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students, and
students from urban rural areas. Often, if the latter are no longer able
to attend their assigned school due to things like bullying, safety or lack of
resources, we are their only option.

Still, we know the work continues. We must give more
disadvantaged youth and students of color an education that offers them access
to opportunities that allow them to thrive and succeed.

We can do it. The solution already exists, and the only thing in our way is bickering about political differences and preconceived notions concerning school choice. If we embrace the spirit of the season – prioritizing peace, love, joy – and put those differences aside, we will build upon the life-changing, history-making foundation legends like Fred Gray have worked so hard to establish and protect.