Next Steps for State Education

DECEMBER 12, 2006

JONESBORO, AR -  Tuesday morning state education leaders made a stop in Jonesboro to talk about an overhaul for high schools.  Commissioner of education, Ken James, presented a summit called "Next Step for Arkansas' Future."  The program is designed to broaden the curriculum being taught in state high schools, to more adequately prepare students for the future.

James remarked, "We've got a 20th century industrial curriculum, and we are charged with preparing kids for the 21st century digital world."  The commissioner spoke to a room of educators from across the region about the changes that need to happen over the next few years.  He says the time for change is now, and every student should get an equal level of education, "because all of those kids are going to have to compete after they graduate."

In attendance was Osceola High senior, Kori Ruffin, who says she thinks her education is important and shouldn't be taken for granted.  She is also very disturbed about the number of students in the state who are not graduating.  "I knew a few people that have dropped out and gotten their G.E.D.'s," remarked Ruffin.  "They felt that school was hard and they wanted to take the easy way out.  The ones I see heading down that road, I try to encourage them to stay in school because education is important."

But for counselors like Catherine Williams of Valley View High School the real challenge in student success is getting involvement from parents.  "It has to start at home.  It seems schools more and more are asked to feed the children, counsel the children, and give the children moral lessons that families used to provide," said Williams.

However, Commissioner James says by 2015 nearly two-thirds of all jobs will require some level of post-secondary education.  And that alone is reason enough for the Next Step program to take flight.

K8 also spoke to representatives from ASU who told us that while there are many students coming in, who are in need of remedial courses, there are a lot who are completely ready to function in college.  We were told that a students motivation can make or break thier success in graduating from college or even high school.  ASU offers several programs for Freshmen to make sure the transition into college is a positive one.

For more information on Arkansas' "Next Step" program you can visit the state's website at