Alabama-Athens City Schools Offer Online Learning Opportunities to Youth Behind Bars

Athens City Schools

Both government and private organizations and institutions have been constantly working through the years to provide education to youth in prison.

To keep up with the changing of the times, online learning opportunities await hundreds of youths who are incarcerated and at-risk.

The Renaissance School of Athens City Schools has revealed on June 13 of this year the possibility of opening online classes by fall on the form of a contractual education service.

This is in partnership with Grade Results, a company based in Dallas which specializes in providing education for youths aged 17 to 21 who are behind bars in county jails across the state.

It is worthy to take note that the cost of housing a prisoner sums up to $45,000 annually while it takes only $5,000 annually to educate one.

This online learning opportunity could be a good foundation for incarcerated youths to earn high school diplomas with a citation of ‘accredited school, issued by Athens City Schools,’ following education protocols.

Mary Scott Hunter, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education, gives positive light on this program on Thursday.

She approves that not only will this program help prevent the students from being incarcerated again; it will also remove them from just being a statistic of unemployed or uneducated individuals.

This is in relation to the current issue of 450,000 adults in Alabama who lack high school credentials.

Slowly, steps are being taken by Athens City Schools such that Grade Results’ executive vice president, Chris Lee, has already secured commitments from 10 county jails.

With this, he has acknowledged 600 potential students from counties including that of Limestone, Jefferson, Baldwin, Mobile, Montgomery, among others.

Sooner, they will venture into more jails in all 67 counties.

Subsequently, the program has the potential to significantly increase enrollment in Athens City Schools. According to Lee, there are about 1,800 inmates who could potentially enter the program.

That is 1,100 higher than the current population of only 700 students enrolled in the Renaissance School plus half as much as the 3,904 students of currently enrolled students in the Athens City School’s system population.

It has been also made clear that the incarcerated students will not physically attend class, and instead, will be administered online.

Hence, no High School teachers are to be involved in the program and the program will entirely rely on the workforce and facilitators of Grade Results. Simply put, Athens City Schools administer, while Grade Results provide the education.

To clarify, the program is going to provide a certain type of blended learning approach— which means that students get to complete majority of their coursework in an online basis while having the equal opportunity to receive direct instruction from a Grade Results teacher several hours each week.

In the past two years accordingly, school officials say that the Renaissance School has had a 100 percent graduation rate—an even better assurance for the completion of the students.

The said program is also beneficial to both parties such that it has the potential to generate income for Athens City Schools. Athens City Schools is expected to receive about $5,009 in state education funding for each student enrolled whilst it is only going to pay about $4,300 for each student to Grade Results.

Other lawmakers are still currently studying the said proposition.

Rob Clark admin staff managing editor

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