#ExpectMore: Chairman Brown’s Legislative Crusade for Post-Secondary Education
Last week, City Council Chairman Kwame Brown (@KwameBrownDC) introduced legislation that would make it a requirement that students in District of Columbia Public Schools and DC Public Charter Schools take either the SAT or ACT exams and apply to at least one college/university or trade school before graduation day.
The 3-page College Preparation Plan Act of 2012 (read the legislation) is a very open piece of legislation that requires:
-The Mayor to create a plan that ensures that every student in a public high school applies to at least one post-secondary institution before graduation day
-The creation of a mandatory workshop that will provide critical information to students and parents on how to apply to these institutions, on what institutions may be best for their student and courses that help “streamline transition” to these institutions.
-OSSE (Office of the State Superintendent of Education) to collect data and report how many students go on to post-secondary education and what type.
-Each student take either the SAT or ACT before graduation.
Since the Chairman announced the idea in a council legislative preview a week ago, mixed reviews have surfaced, with many raising concerns about the fiscal impact on students and parents and the need to force the option of post-secondary education on students who may not want it.
I came out very early in support of the proposed legislation because as a graduate of a high school that emphasized the importance of post-secondary education and where taking the SAT or ACT and applying to at least one college was a graduation requirement, I know that these tactics can and do work for students.
Here are the facts: for every student, college or a post-secondary education is not their dream. However, in our country, a post-secondary education (whether it be collegiate or trade) is necessary for most employment opportunities. Some students are not motivated to pursue a post-secondary education. However, from experience, students who sit in a classroom where the focus is education that leads to college, students are inspired to pursue that track.
Some people ask “what’s the point?” if the system is under-performing and doesn’t prepare our students for a post-secondary education anyway. The truth is the system is under-performing and it needs to do a better job at preparing students for higher education. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t prepare our students for the inevitable.
The “College: Optional” society that we lived in 10, maybe even 5, years ago is no more. Education above the high school level is becoming more and more necessary every day and I think it’s time that we begin making our students aware of this very important fact. Whether it be in law or de facto, application to a post-secondary institution needs to be a requirement in the classroom just as it is in the field of work.
Fiscally, these requirements are possible. For low-income students, there are already resources that cut the cost marginally, if not completely, for both test-taking and applying to college. For example, in 2010, I applied to 12 colleges and universities, where application costs ranged from 40 to 80 dollars each. Out of the 12 institutions, I only paid for one application fee, because waivers were provided by all other institutions. I also took the SAT reasoning test twice, the ACT once and 2 SAT subject tests. With waivers, I paid for none. If there are costs to any of this, however, the city should be willing and able to foot the bill and taxpayers should be willing to make the investment in our city’s future.
The legislative process of debating and voting on this bill is still in its early stages, but it will be interesting to hear the discussion about the future of education in the District of Columbia.