Charles E. Richardson

How do we make them drink? We don’t

As most visitors to this space can attest, I’ve been doing a lot of writing about our village. While we don’t have to agree on its ills or even the details of the solutions, I think we can all agree that the village is broken. Last week, I said the village was sick. You may take that to mean sick mentally, physically or morally. I believe it’s all three.

But it’s not like the medicine is unknown. We know what it is and where it can be found. If that be true, what’s stopping us from filling up a hypodermic and giving our village the vaccine straight to the gluteus maximus? Well, it’s about a horse? I know, you’re thinking, what does a horse have to do with giving the village a shot in the butt?

Remember the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”? That’s appropriate here. Last I checked, there were 2,300 public watering holes in the state of Georgia serving up the water of life — better known as education — to 1.768 million school-aged children in the state — 53,600 of those children live in Macon-Bibb and Houston counties. Still, some go thirsty, because they haven’t been taught the importance of those life-giving waters. They don’t see the value — until for many — its too late. I’ll talk about that in next week’s column.

How do we make them drink? That’s not really the question. The question is: How do we make them want to drink?

It’s possible the days of sitting in a classroom listening to a lecture is not reaching some students. In day’s past it might have been sports or another extracurricular activity, but now with Playstations and X boxes, many children get their ya-ya’s sitting on a couch playing with their friends who could be anywhere in the world. No sweat, no strain, just thumb cramps.

They come to class and they’re flat bored. It’s not that they’re not smart. They can tell you every nuance of whatever it is they’re interested in — from tennis shoes to Madden — so why not algebra and English? Could it be they might be interested in career, technical or agricultural related subjects — from nursing to construction to culinary to audio-video production to welding. Real hands-on experience. How would we know?

There are different ways to get them to drink the water, and it is my thought that a huge group of children haven’t opened up their eyes to the potential pathways offered right here in Middle Georgia.

It takes time for people to realize — and that includes teachers, administrators and counselors and parents — that traditional pathways to a lifetime of success — high school, college — is but one road where there are many. Yes, you still have to finish high school. Yes, you still have to finish college or technical school, but there’s a program where you can do high school and college at the same time. It’s called dual enrollment, or in Georgia, it’s named “Move On When Ready.” It’s where high school-aged students take college courses.

And did I tell you — it’s free?

I don’t know why free college has been such a tough sell. In the fall of 2013, only 68 Bibb County students took advantage of the program while during the same period, 227 Houston County students were dual enrolled. MOWR/DE is catching on, however. Bibb, as of this fall semester has 317 students enrolled while Houston has 450. all totaled only 1.43 percent of the students in BIbb and Houston are taking advantage of free college.

There are just over 1,400 students dual enrolled at Central Georgia Technical College right now, but many more should explore the possibilities. Though CGCT primarily serves 11 Middle Georgia counties, but MOWR/DE students are enrolled there from across the state.

Listen up parents. Even if your child wants to go the traditional route, wouldn’t it be nice to have a few years of college under their belt not paid for out of your pocket?

Here are sources of information for dual enrollment/Move On When Ready.

▪  WS Hutchings College and Career Academy: https://www.bcsdk12.net/Domain/1729 or call 478-779-2550.

▪  Central Georgia Technical College: www.centralgatech.edu/highschool/

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