Pharrell Williams is hoping to reimagine how the education system can assist underprivileged students in his home state of Virginia. In an effort to assist young students in his state, Williams has announced that he will open an elementary school for students living in marginalized communities around the greater Norfolk area. Hoping to ease the financial burden often associated with private school education, Williams' new school, Yellowhab, will offer free tuition to all students during their first year.
“If the system is fixed and unfair, then it needs to be broken. We don’t want lockstep learning where so many kids fall behind; we want bespoke learning designed for each child, where the things that make a child different are the same things that will make a child rise up and take flight,” Williams told the Virginian-Pilot.
Using a lottery system, the school will accept anywhere from 40 to 50 students ranging from grades through five. Once students are selected to attend the school, they will not be separated by age or grade. Instead, Williams and company will sort the students by their educational skill level.
“The challenge is that if you’re progressing too slow relative to some benchmark, then you’re tagged with that title ‘remedial’ or something like it,” Yellowhab Executive Director Mike McGalliard explained.
“And that’s detrimental to your evolving self-concept, to your sense of what you can achieve. It’s oppressive, and it’s a weight kids carry.”
Williams is not planning to open just one school. According to the legendary music producer, there plans to open smaller school settings in several cities across the country within the next five years.
Parents interested in having their children attend the first Yellowhab school will have until July 1 to apply.