The Track Not Taken

, Allie Winegar Duzett, Leave a comment

Students today can sometimes go to high school and college simultaneously—but what happens when it’s over?

“With nearly half of African-American students and 40 percent of Latino students attending high schools where the majority of students do not graduate, we must change our approach,” Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.) of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood,
Elementary and Secondary Education stated at a recent hearing.

What witnesses before the committee intended to do was expand the so-called “dual enrollment” program, in which students can go to high school and college at the same time. “By changing the structure of high school, compressing the number of years to a college degree, and removing financial and other barriers to college, early college schools will increase the number of underrepresented youth who attain a postsecondary degree,” Dr. Michael Webb, Associate Vice President of Early College Initiative at Jobs for the Future, testified.

Vahid Lofti, the Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan, told some success stories of various students involved in her early college program. She told the story of one professor, Donna Fry, whose children excelled in their program even while “participating in everything from the UM-Flint Wind Symphony to volunteering for the Obama campaign.”

But perhaps most notable about this hearing on education is the fact that a third of the witnesses spoke largely on the topic of health care and health care education. Not that they are looking for more doctors and nurses—just more “workers” and “employees.” Arguably, they are thus contributing to the rationing of medical care, the shrinking pool of doctors, and exploding health care costs.

Thomas Svitkovich, Superintendent of Genesee Intermediate School District, admitted to focusing on “students with a strong interest in pursuing a career in the health employment sector.” He went on to describe the “extremely rigorous” program that will have students graduating with both high-school diplomas and 60 college credits apiece.

Stephen Skorcz, the President & CEO of the Greater Flint Health Coalition, also testified. Skorcz asserted that continued support for early college programs would “satisfy the growing demand for skilled healthcare [sic] workers” by allowing the Flint Healthcare Employment Opportunities Program (FHEO) to continue “[providing] training and educational opportunities for individuals who are seeking a career in the healthcare [sic] field.”

Allie Winegar Duzett is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.