Nov 3, 2007

Running Start: running out of funds?

Running Start, an enormously popular program that allows high school students to receive college and high school credit for taking community college courses, is low on funds.
A statewide program offered at South Puget Sound Community College that allows high school students to take college classes for free has grown 15-fold since the college piloted the program in the early 1990s.

But it turns out the program's popularity has created a $34.5 million budget shortfall at Washington's community and technical colleges. At SPSCC, the gap is about $1.5 million....

"It puts more of a squeeze on us to figure out how we're going to pay for things that cost us more," said Nancy McKinney, the college's vice president for administrative services.
The legislature will likely take up the funding issue this coming spring.

The comments to the article--all 80 and counting--are decidedly partisan. RS students (and their parents) praise the program, while current CC students blast "immature" high schoolers for "filling up" their classes. There's truth on both sides: almost 700 students now take advantage of South Puget Sound Community College's program, and are happy with the results--but that's 700 more students filling a finite space. The funding shortfall means that the colleges can't keep up with the amount of classrooms and professors and administrators needed.

Meanwhile, back at the high schools, Running Start accelerates ability grouping. Junior year, a divide between IB/AP and regular offerings becomes a three way split, leading to a perception that American Literature and senior electives are a less rigorous offering--leading more and more students to abandon them for IB/AP and RS, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

And that doesn't even factor in the online / correspondence option, which is also growing in popularity.

It all adds up to the death of the traditional "comprehensive" high school, which seems to be approaching sooner and sooner every year.

1 comment:

TeacherRefPoet said...

I've always felt like a good AP/IB class, and many "regular" classes, offer as good or better education than what many students get in Running Start. I've also felt like Running Start is best used as the province of kids who can't stand being in a high school setting--as in, they just hate the whole HS scene--and don't mind sitting next to locals in their thirties or forties or whatever.

But most student who take it cite the money they'll save by getting college credit. In a way, that makes me sad. They're viewing education as a thing to check off the list as cheaply as possible. But I guess I can't fight that logic, especially for needier families.