Why Parents Should Want To Move to Ohio

I have done a lot of projects with Ohio school districts and with the Ohio Department of Education over many years. But I never thought I wanted to live there. Now I would if I still had children in school. Here’s why.

Why Parents Should Want To Move to Ohio by Regina Paul, Policy Studies in Education

This fall, Ohio will implement its own new version of a dual enrollment program: College Credit Plus, which will allow students in grades 7–12 to earn both college credits and high school credits at the same time by taking courses from two-year or four-year colleges. The courses can be taken at any Ohio public college or participating private college (though my guess is that most students will study at a nearby college) or can be taken online; some courses will be offered at high school facilities as well. If the college is public, the course is free (including books). If the college is private, the cost will be extremely low. All school districts are required to allow students to pursue these newly expanded college options.

Wow.

Ever since I co-founded a public Early College high school in Brooklyn in 2009 (with Chris Aguirre and Marie Segares), which had a great partnership with CUNY’s New York City College of Technology, I have been impressed with and championed the Early College initiatives found nationwide. To be sure, Ohio has had a proud tradition of Early College high schools (thanks, in part, to the leadership and support of Andrea Mulkey and other staff members at EDWorks, a subsidiary of KnowledgeWorks). But now College Credit Plus seems to hold out a kind of Early College opportunity for all Ohio students.

Well, Early College high schools do provide a lot of academic and personal supports for their college-going students and likely will produce graduating seniors with more college credits than individual students will figure out how to get through College Credit Plus. Early College high schools also make it their business to see that more than just the brightest students are encouraged to pursue college study. That is one of the important principles of the Early College movement, which recognizes that sometimes students who are struggling in high school can actually do better in college. We saw that happen at our own Early College high school. It was unforgettable.

But Early College high schools are not everywhere. I wish they were. Maybe College Credit Plus is the next best thing. Congratulations, Ohio.

You can listen to our interview with Andrea Mulkey on NYCollegeChat here.

Honoring Hope Boykin and Alvin Ailey’s Legacy

In 1975, I started my professional career at Policy Studies in Education. A few months later, I started dance classes at The Ailey Extension (“real classes for real people”), after my real dancing days were long over. Some of my earliest classes were Horton classes—that is, Lester Horton’s modern technique, as passed down to the legendary Alvin Ailey. My favorite Horton teacher was a young Milton Myers. I knew Milton was a genius then, and the world soon found out when he joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and went on to dance and teach and choreograph around the world. After almost 40 years, I am still at Policy Studies in Education, the nonprofit educational consulting organization I head today, and I am still taking classes at The Ailey Extension. In fact, the only thing I might know more about than education is dance.

So, if you are in New York City between December 3 and January 4, go see the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center. Trust me. If you have a choice of dates, go on December 16, the night that Ailey celebrates its women. Now, truthfully, I have always been about celebrating Ailey’s men. No company in the U.S. has the deep bench of male dancers that Ailey has now and always has had. But it will be with a full heart that I will be there on December 16 to celebrate one of those Ailey women, Hope Boykin.

Honoring Hope Boykin & Alvin Ailey's Legacy by Regina Paul on Policy Studies in Education

 

I first met Hope a number of years ago at a Lincoln Center retrospective of films about Alvin Ailey and his groundbreaking company. I took my daughter, Polly, to hear Donna Wood speak. (Ms. Wood was one of my favorite Ailey dancers of all time, and, to my mind, no one will ever match what she did in George Faison’s breathtaking Gazelle.) After the program, I saw Hope up front and recognized her from the many times I had seen her dance with the Ailey company. Polly and I went up to her, and I said what remains true today, “You light up that stage like no one else.” She made a warm and gracious reply, and Polly and I went home delighted.

Several years later, Polly became a freshman in the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program (those of you who listen to my weekly podcast NYCollegeChat, cohosted by Marie Segares, have heard me talk about this unique dance degree, offered by a partnership of two impressive institutions). As luck would have it, that fall Hope was asked to choreograph a piece for the freshman class of bright young dancers. I was thrilled. What an opportunity for those kids, I thought.

Then my husband Jay died unexpectedly—right in the middle of Polly’s rehearsals. For a few weeks, about all Polly could make herself do was get up and go to rehearsal with Hope. I thanked God for Hope. Then Hope did something extraordinary—something my family will never forget. She choreographed a prelude to the freshman piece. It was a tribute to my husband’s loving bond with our daughter. In the new opening, Polly is moving slowly with the shadow of her father watching over her. Hope subtitled the piece, “For Jay.” Who does that? Who takes the time to watch out for one child like that? Hope Boykin.

When you go to Ailey’s December 16 performance, you will see what I mean about Hope’s lighting up the stage. You will see that huge smile and the sheer joy with which she dances the final section of Ailey’s signature piece, Revelations. Her smile reaches out into the audience in a way that just makes you smile back.

It is exactly what Mr. Ailey imagined. He was known for saying that he wanted to bring dance to the people—to make dance something that everyone can embrace and learn from and take pleasure in. When Hope dances, she brings dance to the people. She dances from her soul, and somehow she touches yours. What a way to honor Mr. Ailey’s legacy.