People often remarked about our sons’ competitive public high school in the Washington, D.C., area that it was a great place for the kids at the top and at the bottom, but it left a lot of room for those in the middle to fall through the cracks. I wasn’t ever sure about that; it seemed that there was something for everyone at their school, from music to sports to media to service. But with that recollection in mind, I was especially curious to visit The Center For Advanced Research and Technology (CART), which is an ambitious and ambitiously named public high school in Fresno County, California.
CART began with the glimmer of an idea: that we could do better at educating students, especially those who were having trouble finding their way in a more traditional American high school environment. CART sought to offer an unconventional education, one where students could discover or follow their passions with a clear path toward a career.
CART draws about two-thirds of its students from the city of Fresno, whose overall challenges Jim described yesterday. The other third are from the much smaller and more affluent town of Clovis, which abuts the northeast section of Fresno. Rick Watson, who is CART's CEO rather than its principal, said that in 1997 a group of educators, business people, and community leaders of Fresno pulled together in a feat of creativity and cooperation to imagine and build a rigorous career-track high school with a solid academic footing, an infusion of technology, and a spirit of real-worldism.