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Student concurrent enrollment programs seek equal footing

By Nick Longworth
Claire Westra, center, and her mother, Kayla, left, testify about their experience with Post-Secondary Enrollment Options during testimony on HF1906. Sponsored by Rep. Jenifer Loon, right, the bill would modify PSEO Act provisions. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Lawmakers want to guarantee high school students considering post-secondary concurrent enrollment courses have every available opportunity to succeed.

“We’re trying to ensure students have the opportunity to earn college credits while in high school; it saves millions of dollars for families each year,” said Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), who sponsors HF1906. “Unfortunately we’ve had some circumstances that have discouraged students from taking advantage of this.”

The bill would require school districts with concurrent enrollment students to provide the same access to computers and software as other students. It would also eliminate limits on a postsecondary institutions’ ability to advertise and recruit students to enroll in courses that receive college credit. Referred to as the “gag rule,” proponents contend it exists to guard students from being lured away from the high school experience under the prospect of free college credit.

The House Education Finance Committee, which Loon chairs, laid the bill over Tuesday for possible omnibus bill inclusion. Its companion, SF570, sponsored by Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), awaits action by the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee.

“We need to error on the side of expanding student opportunities,” said Jim Bartholomew, Minnesota Business Partnership’s education policy director. ”This brings the focus back to giving students the best education opportunities possible.”

The bill would also provide a potential source of recourse during grade disputes by allowing enrolled students to appeal a weighted grade-point average to the Department of Education.

“I strongly believe it’s important that students have this option,” Loon said. 

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