Teachers unions lobby to limit high schoolers’ access to college credit

Teachers unions lobby to limit high schoolers’ access to college credit

The federal government sees giving high school students college credit for advanced courses as a big win. Teachers unions see it as a job threat, so they are working to limit students’ potential.

“Dual enrollment works.”

That’s what the U.S. Department of Education had to say about taking dual credit classes in high school and its positive impact on college success and reduction in the time – and cost – to get a college degree.

But teachers unions view dual enrollment differently. They see this advancement of students’ educations as a threat to jobs. Some are lobbying to limit students’ access to college credit in high school.

Unions oppose dual credit despite benefits to students

Dual enrollment is “one of many terms used to describe a program that allows high school students to take a college course and earn both high school and college credit,” the education department said.

Unions at an Illinois community college are opposing a bill that seeks to advance access to dual credit for high school students.

House Bill 5020 would amend the Dual Credit Quality Act and change how high school districts and community colleges partner to provide dual credit courses, as well as the standards for dual credit courses.

The full- and part-time faculty unions at Heartland Community College, both affiliates of the Illinois Federation of Teachers, formed a task force and reported on data related to the effect of dual credit courses on the community college.

With the report showing steep decreases in faculty positions as dual credit participation increased, the unions oppose HB 5020, despite dual credit courses’ benefits to high school students.

One task force member expressed concern over students using dual credit in high school to complete college rather than prepare for college.

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Where are these students going?’” said task force member Jeremy Bachelor. “Or are they just getting their entire associate’s degrees at the high school? So, instead of being college ready, they’re college done — which really wasn’t the point of the legislation. The students who may be able to afford [Heartland] are the ones who aren’t paying. The money that’s going into these students isn’t really investing in our community at all.”

This isn’t the first time teachers unions have opposed a dual credit bill that would benefit high school students. The Chicago Teachers Union filed opposition to a bill in 2018 that would allow high school students to take an unlimited amount of dual credit courses in high school. The bill ultimately passed, despite CTU’s efforts.

The unions’ opposition shows they are more concerned about their own jobs and money than students’ money or success.

As the Department of Education put it, “Dual enrollment is an evidence-based practice that can play a powerful role in improving student outcomes. It can also be a means for students to save time and money and for them to develop a college-going identity with confidence in their ability to enroll in and be successful in higher education.”

Research has shown dual credit produces a positive impact on academics, graduation rates, college enrollment, college success and college completion rates.

But teachers unions don’t want students to use dual credit to avoid enrolling and paying for the first two years of college. That’s too bad, when Illinois students are already struggling to pay for the nation’s fourth-highest in-state tuition as a result of college pension systems eating more and more operating dollars.

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