As part of its ongoing efforts to expand the reach of its innovative online learning program, Smart Horizons Career Online Education (SHCOE), based in Pensacola, FL, has partnered with Ashland University of Ashland, OH, to launch Ashland Career Online High School. This new online school offering students both an 18-credit high school diploma and a credentialed career certificate will be made available to inmates in U.S. corrections facilities.
SHCOE (www.shcoe.org) became the world’s first AdvancED/SACS accredited online school district in February of 2011. Career certificates available to SHCOE students include Childcare, Transportation Services, Office Management, Homeland Security, Protection Services, and General Career Preparation.
Established in 1878, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a comprehensive university that serves a diverse student population. The school was ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2012. In addition, Ashland University is recognized as the nation’s leading higher education institution in providing outreach programs designed to enhance education opportunities for members of the corrections community.
“The Florida Department of Corrections recently announced its intent to award a contract to SHCOE for the provision of online career training and high school education services to Florida inmates,” said Dr. Howard Liebman, CEO and Superintendent of SHCOE. “Now this partnership with Ashland University—a recognized leader in providing post–secondary education to prison populations—further expands SHCOE’s role in the corrections space. Our goal is to provide online high school and career education to inmates in all 50 states around the United States. This is certainly another step in accomplishing that goal.”
“This collaboration with SHCOE fulfills a need to work with a population that has been identified as needing more assistance to succeed,” said John Dowdell, Director of Ashland University’s Gill Center for Business and Economic Education. “This is a symbiotic relationship in which each organization can build on the strengths of the other. In addition to extending education opportunities, another goal of this partnership is to bring about a reduction in recidivism among prison inmates.”
Both Dr. Liebman and Mr. Dowdell see this partnership between SHCOE and Ashland University as a means of creating a seamless educational flow in the corrections space. Inmates will have the opportunity to earn their high school diplomas and career certificates through Ashland Career Online High School before moving on to post-secondary studies with Ashland University, all in preparation of being re–incorporated into communities as productive members of the workforce.
“Ashland University has continued to build technological components into its delivery of educational programs to members of corrections systems and incorporating a career online high school is a natural next step in the process,” said Dr. Liebman.
Because of its relationship with Advanced Systems Technology (AST), a business partner in the SHCOE district, SHCOE is also uniquely positioned to address security issues involved in providing online education programs to incarcerated populations. AST is a technology firm that has provided numerous solutions to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Justice since 1984 and has delivered online training to over 2,000,000 individuals.
“We’re excited about this partnership with SHCOE,” said Dr. Frederick Finks, President of Ashland University. “It provides an excellent opportunity for Ashland University to build on its longstanding service to the correctional community.