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Bill limiting dual enrollment revived in Georgia legislature

January 16, 2020 Leave a comment

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports that last year’s bill to limit the dual enrollment program is active again in the state legislature, as I predicted would happen when the bill was tabled late in the 2019 session.

The front-page story in today’s paper recaps what we know from last year: participation in dual enrollment has exploded in recent years, and as a result, the program has blown its allocated budget. The state has already shifted some dual enrollment costs to the colleges and universities that provide the classes, and is looking for additional ways to rein in spending.

As you may remember from the 2019 legislative session, the bill (HB 444) would cap the number of hours of dual enrollment classes that the state would pay for. According to the AJC, students enrolling at four-year colleges and universities would be limited to 15 credit hours per semester and 30 credit hours overall. Caps would be higher for students enrolling in technical education classes at technical colleges.

(Note: The version of the bill posted online shows limits of 16 credit hours per semester and 32 total, but perhaps the AJC reporter knows of a change that hasn’t been posted online yet. Last year, a substitute version of the bill written in the House did set the caps at 15 and 30 hours.)

Students could take classes beyond these “covered” limits, but would have to pay for them out of pocket.

Earlier versions of the bill from 2019 would have allowed students to charge additional dual enrollment classes against their future HOPE scholarship allocations; however, that option was removed during committee rewrites last year.

My position is mostly the same as it was when I posted about this last year. From a practical standpoint, I understand why limits are needed to control costs.

I also think it’s reasonable to have limits. I don’t agree with the parents who wrote to me last year to argue that the state should pay for unlimited college classes for high-school students and then turn around and pay for four full years of college under HOPE as well.

A limit of 30 credit hours works out to 10 college courses taken during high school. That ought to be plenty for students at high schools that offer AP classes in most core subjects.

However, for students in high schools that don’t offer many AP classes, 10 dual enrollment classes might not be enough. These students may have an unmet need for more rigorous classes to adequately challenge them, and if they want to get into selective colleges, they also need to keep up with their peers at bigger and better-performing high schools, who routinely take 15 or more AP classes.

That argument may not get much traction in lobbying legislators, though, because this bill also defines the purpose of the dual enrollment program, and it has nothing to do with providing advanced learning options for gifted students.

The purpose of the dual enrollment program shall be to provide qualified high school students with access to rigorous career and academic courses at higher education institutions in order to increase high school graduation rates, prepare a skilled workforce, and to decrease postsecondary students’ time to degree completion.

Georgia HB 444, Lines 19-22 (emphasis added)

State legislators could argue that providing advanced learning options for gifted students isn’t a state responsibility to be handled through dual enrollment, but rather is the responsibility of local public school systems, as mandated by state law. But, as advocates for the gifted, we need to know that school systems can fulfill the requirements of that law by providing gifted high-school students just one gifted or AP class per semester. That’s not enough for students who need the challenge of college-level coursework.

In my opinion, the 30-hour cap should be put in place for students in high schools with robust AP programs. However, I’d like for students in high schools with limited AP options to be able to apply for exemptions from the credit hours caps, or have the option of tapping into their HOPE funds to pay for classes beyond the caps — at least for classes that are in core academic areas (math, science, English / language arts, and social studies).

Step one, though, would be to convince legislators to amend the bill’s language on the purpose of dual enrollment to include serving Georgia’s gifted and advanced learners.

If you want to take action on this bill

The bill is in the Senate Higher Education Committee. That committee is chaired by Lindsey Tippens, who also is listed as the bill’s sponsor in the Senate. The other members of the committee are:

If one of these legislators represents your senate district, start by e-mailing them.

It’s also not too soon to get in touch with members of the Georgia House of Representatives. On that side, the bill would go through the Education Committee. The committee has 24 members, who are listed on the committee’s web page.

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Recommended reading: The need for gifted education in public schools

December 19, 2019 Leave a comment

If you’re a regular reader of news about gifted education, you know there’s widespread concern about the under-representation of minority and economically disadvantaged students in gifted education programs.

One of the most dramatic and talked about developments in gifted education in 2019 was the finding by a panel in New York City that the gifted programs in the city’s public schools were racially and socioeconomically unequal, and the resulting recommendation by that same panel that gifted programs should be eliminated from all public city schools.

In an article in The Atlantic magazine, Andy Smarick — author of Closing America’s High-Achievement Gap — acknowledges the role of public schools in leveling the playing field for all students, yet warns against shortchanging our brightest kids, as often happens in public schools.

He looks at the lack of structure and funding for gifted education in many states. And, like other advocates for gifted education, he points out that if public schools don’t provide gifted education, those who will suffer most will be the economically disadvantaged, who don’t have as many options for enrichment outside of school.

I recommend taking a few minutes to read the full article. Those of us who advocate for gifted children regularly encounter administrators, teachers, and neighbors who undervalue gifted education and even resent resources being allocated to it. Smarick’s article reminds us that gifted kids, like all kids, deserve the chance to be their best.

Article: The Contradiction at the Heart of Public Education

Categories: Advocacy and policy

Tellus observatory will be open for viewing next Friday night

November 26, 2019 Leave a comment

Tellus Museum will host Sky Watch on Friday, Dec. 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. Using a 20-inch telescope, visitors will look for the Orion nebula, a double star, the Andromeda galaxy and more.

Cost is $5. (This gets you into the observatory only; the museum will be closed.)

If the weather is rainy or cloudy, check the museum web site after noon on Friday to see if the event is canceled.

 

Categories: Enrichment

Apply now for summer Pharmacy Camp at Samford University

November 14, 2019 Leave a comment

Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., is now accepting applications to its June 2020 Bulldog Pharmacy Camp.

The one-week residential camp is open to current high-school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Students will learn about pharmacy school and careers, participate in hands-on compounding demonstrations, and experience campus life.

Application deadline is Feb. 1, 2020. A limited number of scholarships are available.

Thank you to GiftedAtlanta.com reader Cindy D. for telling me about this!

Categories: Summer programs

Apply now for Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship

October 16, 2019 2 comments

Jack Kent Cooke

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program offers funds — up to $40,000 a year, for up to four years — to support the college ambitions of high-achieving students who have financial need.

The scholarship is available to high-school seniors who have GPAs of 3.5 or higher and have high SAT or ACT scores. (See the JKCF web site for complete eligibility information.)

The foundation will consider applications from students whose families make up to $95,000 a year, but most of the recipients will have family income low enough to qualify for a Pell Grant. The average family income of recipients is $35,000 per year.

Application for the scholarship will be done using the Common App. (Again, see the JKCF site for details.) There is no cost to apply. You must complete the application by November 13, 2019. You’ll need to provide financial information, school records, essays and teacher recommendations, so allow yourself time to compile and complete the needed paperwork.

Global birdwatching event October 19

October 9, 2019 Leave a comment

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology invites anyone interested in birds or citizen science to take part in its October Big Day on Saturday, October 19.

By participating, you’ll be joining thousands of other birders around the world who are making note of birds they see. As with other citizen-science birding events, October Big Day helps scientists see patterns in bird populations and migrations.

You can be part of Global Big Day by watching for birds for as little as 10 minutes, anytime during the day, at any location — although if you’re looking for a birding hot spot, the Cornell Lab can make suggestions.


Categories: Enrichment

Governor’s Honors Program application process starts now

September 24, 2019 Leave a comment

The Governor’s Honors Program is a highly regarded and highly selective summer program for students who are currently in 10th or 11th grade. The four-week program is held on the campus of Berry University in Rome and offers “academic, cultural and social enrichment.”

The program is funded by the State of Georgia, so selected students pay no tuition to attend.

To apply, a student must first be nominated by a teacher at their school, who teaches the subject area the student wants to study at GHP. Those nominations are due this fall.

Following the nomination process, students complete a rigorous application, after which they may be invited for interviews.

If your child is interested in GHP, they should reach out now to the GHP coordinator at their school. Home-schooled students should contact the GHP coordinator at the school they would be designated to attend if they were attending public school.

Categories: Summer programs