I can’t believe people take this idea seriously

One of the absolute worst ideas I have ever heard in regard to education has to be Maine governor Paul LePage’s idea to add a 5th year to high school so students can earn their Associate degrees.  He mentioned it during the campaign season but had gone silent on it since. I was hopeful he had abandoned the thought. It’s just awful:

  • High school teachers are not qualified to teach college level courses
  • Associate degrees typically take 2 years to get
  • High schools are not accredited institutions (I feel bad for the students that will get laughed at when they attempt to transfer their credits to real colleges and universities.)
  • This insults everyone who has a legitimate Associate degree

Unfortunately, it looks like people are still taking this stuff seriously, including the local newspaper:

A high school diploma is not enough for today’s job market, and current school programs work well for many students but still leave too many behind. Too often, students finish high school without the skills they need to get a good job or make the transition to college-level work.

Making it easier for more people to move from high school to college will not only improve their economic prospects, but everyone’s. It’s still an interesting idea and well worth pursuing.

Except this is not college-level work. There is not a single teacher in the state of Maine – or anywhere else – that is qualified to teach at the college level except in cases of special instruction and other, relatively rare exceptions – or when they are also professors. A sociology teacher at a high school cannot teach a sociology course at the college level. A high school biology teacher cannot teach me about genetics under any formal requirements. The same goes for all the major subjects. Until colleges start offering gym courses, high school teachers need to stay in their own buildings, teaching at their own level.

This is just the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I’m not saying that because LePage is a Republican and generally a bad governor. I’m saying it because it’s so ridiculous and demonstrates an extreme poverty of understanding of the differences between high schools and colleges. If this dolt wants to subsidize real college degrees, earned at real colleges, then great. Do it. Or if he wants to trim many of the useless classes high school students have to take so that they can more easily be sent to classes at universities and community colleges, then great. Do it. But if he wants to add a 5th year of high school without accounting for the quality of instruction, the new class space needed, the space needed for the added students – the high school in my city already has taken on 7th and 8th graders in addition to the other students – or why he believes it’s okay to give away two year degrees to under-taught students in a hugely compressed time frame, then no. That’s awful and Paul LePage needs to keep his face away from anything to do with education. He obviously has no idea what he’s doing and he hasn’t bothered to think through this idea in the least.

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