Getting a Head-Start on Higher Education

Oct. 15, 2003, midnight | By Anthony Glynn | 20 years, 6 months ago

Florida passed a new legislation allowing high school students to graduate in three years with six fewer credits, as long as they earn four English credits and two foreign language credits. They can skip several electives such as physical education, art and life management.

MCPS should push for a law like the one Florida recently passed to decrease class sizes, increase school funding and accelerate students' education. Overall, this new legislation will benefit both the individual and his/her high school.

Florida decided to implement the legislation to decrease class sizes, therefore improving the teacher to student ratio. Blair and other schools would benefit similarly from this law. As of now, Blair classes scarcely have enough room for their students, which hinders their learning potential.

Every year the government spends thousands of dollars per student for their schooling. Because some students would not finish their senior year, that money can go to other things. Blair would be able to better utilize these funds by using the money to increase teacher salaries, update technological resources and to better supply extracurricular activities.

Maryland students must get complete "Request for Waiver of the Fourth Year Enrollment Requirement" and "Curriculum Plan" forms for three-year graduation approval. The "Request" form reads, "The Maryland State law on graduation requires 4 years of enrollment in high school. To qualify for a waiver the student must have met all other MCPS graduation requirements and demonstrate to the principal that a waver would be in the best educational and developmental interest of the student."

Firstly, 22 (credits) and four (years) are arbitrary numbers. Someone could have picked them out of a hat for all we know. Secondly, the principal is so busy running the school that it's unlikely he has made a relationship with the few students who want to graduate early. It seems unfair that someone who doesn't know the student should decide his or her fate.

Guidance counselor Lynn Wood has only had one student, out of three, get approved in the ten years she has worked at Blair - one student out of thousands. With this ratio of one out of three it's hard to believe anyone would go through the trouble of applying.

This Florida law would allow capable students to be able enter college one year earlier for a head start in a higher education. Blair Senior Amy Corbello is one of these students who is graduating in her third year. She explains, "Colleges offer classes such as fashion design classes, which high schools do not. I do not want to wait to learn what I'm interested in."

At least some three-year graduates are guaranteed entrance into college. The three-year graduation requirements match up with the course requirements for earning a Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. The Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program is just one program that helps the three-year graduates get into college. There are scholarship options out there for almost any student willing to look.

Also the legislation amended Florida statutes so that the universities lowered the minimal required credits from 19 to 18. This further enables three-year graduates to enter into a college education.

If there are scholarships and amendments being made to help these students get into college then we know the government is not just pushing them out of high school to fend for themselves.

Colleges, not high school administration, decide if a student is ready or not to enter. If a college accepts a student who graduates high school in three years, then that student should be just as likely to succeed as a four-year high school graduate. Students who are qualified enough to get into a college are qualified enough to get their high school diploma.

This law is obviously not for everyone, but the participants who take it seriously will prosper. The serious participants care more about the educational experiences they will gain sooner in college than the ones they might be passing up from senior year in high school.

The new Florida legislation would allow more money for school needs, and give students the opportunity to advance earlier in their educational career.

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