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.

13 Responses

  1. They’d be better off returning vocational education back into the educational system. You’d have job stability as a plumber or electrician because it’ll take a little longer to get those jobs replaced by robots.

    FWIW, an associates degree is about as worthless as a high school diploma.


  2. I search in vain to find where it says high school teachers are going to teach anything other than high school classes.

    It’s going to be fine, Michael ‘Chicken Little’ Hawkins.

  3. You also continue to assume that high school takes anymore than 3 years to complete…

  4. It wouldn’t be continuing a fifth year of high school if college professors were brought in to do the teaching. If that’s LePage’s plan, then he is just utilizing particular buildings and it bears no relation to anything he has described.

    I agree that high school can be completed more quickly than it typically is. That’s why students should be given the option of getting credits from real colleges throughout their Senior year. To an extent that is how it works, but a lot of the fat courses could be trimmed. For instance, a student who takes English 101 at a real college could use that as both a high school credit and a college credit, thus skipping a year of English courses. But none of that is anything like LePage is dumbly proposing. He wants to cram two years of courses into a single year while allowing high school teachers to instruct the students. If this ever becomes a reality, I will honestly feel bad for the kids who try to transfer their credits to an out-of-state college.

  5. He has instituted a group of persons to figure out how it can be implemented, even if there has been ideas tossed out, and I haven’t really seen any, nothing has been proposed yet.

    I’m assuming students would either actually go to a college to take the classes or take them by self study or ITV. There is no reason this can’t be worked out, none whatsoever.

  6. What I’ve found interesting about this issue over the months is how ready everyone is to propose distinct alternatives to LePage’s idea in order to make it salvageable.

  7. My district has a program is a similar idea that works. Our high school students can get college credits by replacing HS courses in their junior and senior years with courses from the local community college or through some distance learning opportunities from accredited institutions. The district has worked out things so the courses are free to the public school students. The program also works hard to make sure students who need it can get financial aid to move on to a 4 year university.

  8. What I’ve found interesting is you aren’t even willing to consider that this could work.

  9. Just so we are clear, you have something similar that works, and there are no horsemen, no trumpets and no beasts with seven heads?

    Well, I guess it won’t cause the end of the world.

    What do you think, Michael ‘Bold Conservative’ Hawkins?

  10. I think that’s not the idea that LePage has been proposing.

  11. I think the thrust of the idea was to find a way to take kids who are unlikely to want to, or be able to go to college and give them a leg up by adding an optional extra year of high school.

    Which is obviously, looking at what high school consists of, not a difficult task. I assume there are high school teachers who could teach college courses, and it would be easy to list them as adjunct faculty at a community college and have them teach specific classes in residence. Combine that with ITV and online courses and I see a great idea in the making, once it gets figured out.

    I imagine that’s why there is a committee being set up to figure out how the idea could be implemented.

  12. There may be a few high school teachers who can teach college courses – some of my professors are actually full time high school teachers who happen to also be qualified to teach at the professional level of college – but I can’t imagine there are enough out there to make any of this worthwhile. Besides, there is still the fact that Associate degrees take about 2 years to obtain. LePage would be better off continuing the King-era policies of getting Maine universities and community colleges working with high schools, much as kherbert above has described.

  13. That would certainly be part of it, but you still have to use what you have.

    And did you miss the “replacing some high school classes”, and high school really only takes 3 years” parts?

    I’m not sure, I was never a math wiz, but I think the sum of 3 and 2 used to be 5.

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