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Education advocates embroiled in an 11th-hour battle over post-secondary ‘gag rule’

Copyright Minnesota House of Representatives. Photo by Paul Battaglia.
Education chairs Sen. Patricia Torres-Ray and Rep. Carlos Mariani in a meeting of the omnibus education policy bill conference committee.

As is the way in politics, when the 2014 Legislature convened back in February there was no shortage of rumors about the issues that threatened to erupt. For the most part they were pretty predictable — extensions of the red-hot controversies of years past involving entrenched interests.

No one could have predicted that when lawmakers crashed into a final, political pothole it would be an 11th hour, backroom tussle over what’s known in education policy circles as the “PSEO gag rule.” The phrase in question limits what colleges and universities can tell high school students interested in earning college credit.

In theory, the final step for the 2014 education policy omnibus bill, which removes the gag, is a simple yes or no vote on the Senate floor of the same conference committee report the House last week approved 80-49.

But last-minute division has put Senate DFLers in a political pickle. To avoid an embarrassing floor debate within their own caucus, leaders are thought to be toying with a series of options that are all variations on a parliamentary deus ex machina.

In an effort to be there when it happens, a small army of education advocates — many of them usually on opposite sides of the issues — has taken up occupancy in the Capitol hallways. In addition to the gag rule, the bill contains a painstakingly negotiated series of policy provisions educators are anxious to see pass. A no vote or the tabling of the bill would mean widespread pain.

PSEO stands for Post-Secondary Enrollment Options, a state program that allows 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders to earn credit from Minnesota’s institutions of higher ed. The idea behind the 30-year-old initiative is to give students access to rigorous and specialized coursework and to college.

Research has proven that students who participate in PSEO are twice as likely to go on to higher ed and twice as likely to finish a post-secondary degree. And in an age of spiraling student debt, the program has legions of fans who believe more high schoolers would take advantage of it if they knew more.

‘Good for kids’

Rep. Linda Slocum

“This is just plain good for kids,” said Rep. Linda Slocum, the Richfield DFLer who proposed removing the six-word gag clause. “We wring our hands about the college debt and this is an effort to do something about that.”

Right now, state law says that colleges and universities can tell students and parents only about PSEO’s “educational and programmatic” advantages. They cannot extoll the fact that the state pays for the college courses, which means students can graduate from high school with two years of college completed — for free.

School administrators counter that the “free” credits cost $60 million per biennium — money they’d prefer to spend in their own classrooms. They object to the idea that colleges can “recruit, solicit and advertise” among their students.

The president of the Minnesota State College Student Association, Kelly Charpentier-Berg, participated in PSEO in 1995. The only reason she knew about the program, she said, is because the alternative learning center where she was finishing high school was located on the campus of Pine Technical College in Pine City.

When she graduated, Charpentier-Berg had 14 credits under her belt and the confidence to go on to college. Now as head of the student group, she hears frequent complaints from new high school grads who are upset that they didn’t know about the state-funded college credits while they were still eligible.

By contrast, high school students are frequently told that Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and college in the schools programs, all of which can shorten college tenure, are money-savers for students and families.

“For example, North St. Paul High School points out that via college in the schools, its students earned 1,286 college credits in the 2012-13 school year,” explained a letter to lawmakers signed by representatives of a number of education groups. “The [school’s] website explains, ‘This translates to a tuition savings of more than $595,000 for the families of those students who take advantage of this opportunity.’”

Plus, the vast majority of the PSEO money stays in public education. According to state data obtained by the Center for School Change, which has tracked the program for years, 84 percent of PSEO credits earned in 2013 were obtained from public institutions; 73 percent at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system (MNSCU), and 11 percent at the University of Minnesota. More than $23 million of the $27.8 million in tuition reimbursements went to state institutions.

At the same time, Minnesota college students have the fourth-highest level of debt in the nation, at more than $31,000 per student.

“As legislators, you often request a ‘fiscal impact,’” proponents of eliminating the gag wrote in their statement. “Providing fiscal impact information to families and students also makes sense.”

Long-term grumbling

There’s long been bipartisan grumbling about the gag clause, but removing it had little traction until this year. As part of a series of tweaks to PSEO, Slocum got interested in a debate over how schools should “weight” the courses when grading.

PSEO’s appeal is part of the reason that schools have moved to adopt Advanced Placement and other college-level coursework. Yet PSEO was the only effort at increasing rigor that was singled out when it came to what administrators could tell students and families.

At the same time, the Center for School Change’s Joe Nathan was finding inconsistent compliance with a portion of the law that said high schools had to give students timely information about their PSEO options.

In its education policy bill, the state Senate ultimately voted to require better and more timely disclosure from schools. The House adopted Slocum’s proposal removing the words that limited what higher ed could say about PSEO.

The conference committee that reconciled the bills adopted both changes. The House last week adopted the entire package, even as a schism was opening in the Senate. Greater Minnesota DFLers, in particular, are said to fear that PSEO could cut into their already diminished enrollment.

‘Follow the money’

Senate leadership, meanwhile, is said to have little stomach for what seems to be shaping up to be a fight. The various options supposedly under consideration for use as early as Tuesday morning include stripping the PSEO provision from the policy bill and tucking it into a “must-pass” provision such as the finance bill or sending the measure back to the conference committee.

For her part, Slocum wishes her colleagues in the upper chamber would just drop the hammer. “In education, you’ve got to follow the money,” she said. “It’s not about the kids, it’s about the adults in the room when you follow the money.”

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Comments (27)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 05/13/2014 - 11:27 am.

    Ms. Slocum is right – this is definitely not about the kids,…

    …it’s about the adults, it’s about the money, it’s about the intractable foes in education politics.

    You’d think the benefits to students meant nothing. Enough already !!

    If there ever was a no-brainer in education policy, this is it: remove all roadblocks to PSEO, and do it now.

  2. Submitted by Michael Hess on 05/13/2014 - 01:33 pm.

    Same old

    The idea of a gag rule seems like a technique you need when you know what is being offered is obviously superior to the incumbent offering, like handicapping a horse race.

    It does seem this session has become dominated by special interests spats. Senate office building, growlers, this education stuff… It would be nice to get back to what citizens really want and not just who holds the key to DFL election fundraising.

  3. Submitted by Amy Bergquist on 05/13/2014 - 02:48 pm.

    Duplication and “increasing rigor”

    I’m wondering whether high school students are allowed to take PSEO courses that are identical to offerings at their high school. When I was a teacher (10+ years ago), I heard students contemplating taking a basic algebra class at a community college in order to get college credit, rather than taking the same class at their high school. In my view, we shouldn’t be financing high school students to take classes via PSEO that are essentially remedial classes for actual post-secondary students. But it’s not clear to me whether there are such limitations. If we “follow the money” we may discover that post-secondary institutions are looking to recruit more PSEO students to boost their enrollment numbers, without the touted increase in “rigor” for the high school students involved.

  4. Submitted by Jeffrey Reed on 05/13/2014 - 03:55 pm.

    Rigor or not.

    We went down the PSEO road a number of years ago and found that the rigor at the local community college was horrid. The instructor wasn’t qualified to teach anything let alone a college-level calculus course. I’d rather have student loan debt to worry about than a kid who fails at the next level because he/she went the PSEO route. And don’t think kids figure this out; take an easy 3 credits at the community college for a class that meets three days a week with little or no homework vs. five days a week with homework and some accountability?

    • Submitted by Jon Lord on 05/15/2014 - 10:14 am.

      community colleges

      Aren’t really colleges anymore. Somewhere along the line (in the 80’s) they were changed to trade school but allowed to keep the ‘community college’ tag.

      In the 70’s Community Colleges, once called Junior Colleges, were two year colleges that had taught all the subjects of the first two years in a four year college. All the teachers were accredited college professors. Now any ‘school’ teaching any group of trade subjects can call themselves a college.

      During the 80’s they dropped almost all subjects that would meet the requirements of the first two years of a four year college. Not to mention dropped requirements for accredited college professors. The Nixon Administration set out to attack education in the 70’s and was realized during the 80’s. The first time I heard the phrase “The Dumbing Down of America” was in the late 70’s which is repeated even today.

      That was accomplished primarily by horror stories about “the humanities” during that time, which of course included history, literature, art, science, math, etc. so now we have no accredited two year colleges offering accredited two year college degrees anymore. The exception being business degrees which do not require history, literature, art, science, math, etc. So the dumber we get the less we know, the less we know the dumber we get. An unfortunate tautology.

  5. Submitted by Joe Musich on 05/13/2014 - 04:45 pm.

    would all these ….

    disputes and debates be happening if in fact all levels of education were properly funded ? Student funding is done primarily by numbers in seats. Is that the method we should continue to use ? Seems to me like putting the cart before the horse. Or maybe the diploma before the class. Possibly cost of implementation of curriculum should be the first level of approach. A particular learning tool is applied wether there are 20 or 35 students in class. Of course the fewer the numbers the the more efficient implementation.

  6. Submitted by Beth Hawkins on 05/13/2014 - 07:17 pm.

    Amy;

    Rules are stricter for what 10th graders can enroll in under PSEO. Generally they are eligible for technical courses only. Older high school students can enroll in courses of their choosing with the following caveat: 

    • PSEO courses must be nonsectarian college-level courses. They may not be developmental or non-credit bearing remedial courses. The high school determines the amount of credit to be awarded.  

      

    • Submitted by Amy Bergquist on 05/14/2014 - 09:29 am.

      So…

      Thanks for the clarification, Beth. I’m curious how the rule works. If a high school student takes the 3-credit (each) “Pre College Math 1,” “Pre College Math 2,” “Pre College Math 3,” “Mathematical Foundations 1,” or “Mathematical Foundations 2” courses at Normandale Community College, will our state tax dollars fund those courses, since they are credit-bearing, or would they be “developmental”? What about the 5-credit “Pre Calculus”? Does it matter whether the student’s high school refuses to award credit?

      I think the public generally supports PSEO if students use it for “rigor,” and some students do. I had students at South who had taken all of the calculus available at the school and were using PSEO to go beyond what high school had to offer. But I know there are students who see PSEO as a racket to accumulate some easy college credits and get some time off campus. And I suspect if we “follow the money” we’d see that some post-secondary institutions are eager to do some marketing to this potential base of customers. I’d be more enthusiastic about PSEO if I knew students couldn’t use it to take classes that are identical to, or less rigorous than, classes offered at their own high schools.

      • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/14/2014 - 04:45 pm.

        College level

        Amy-

        The rule Beth shared is pretty clear. Here is the full quote from statute:

        “An institution must not enroll secondary pupils, for postsecondary enrollment options purposes, in remedial, developmental, or other courses that are not college level.”

        This has not seemed to be an issue. It is not even cited as an issue by PSEO opponents, who are always on the lookout for such things.

        Also, the high school MUST grant HS credit if a student earned postsecondary credit through PSEO. This is to ensure that a high school will not ‘punish’ students for participating in PSEO by not granting them HS credit needed to graduate HS.

        I would confidently say that not only some, but almost all students use PSEO for “rigor” and to get a head start on college.

        I actually have a report from MnSCU (where more than 70% of PSEO credits are earned) that details the departments and courses that PSEO students are taking. I’d be happy to share it.
        Much to the chagrin of anti-PSEO folks, the kids aren’t all taking gym and underwater basket-weaving. That oft-cited argument just does not hold water….

        • Submitted by Amy Bergquist on 05/15/2014 - 10:01 am.

          Clarity

          Well, I was a high school teacher in the Minneapolis Public Schools for 11 years, and while I don’t identify myself as a “PSEO opponent,” it’s a concern of mine, which is why I posed the questions above. I’d be delighted to learn whether the Normandale Community College math courses I identified above are considered “remedial, developmental, or . . . not college level” under the statute. I’m a lawyer and my statutory construction skills do not suggest a “clear” answer.

          And while we’re trying to figure out what the statute says, what about Normandale’s “College Algebra”? My college did not and does not teach “algebra,” except in the form of something called “linear algebra” with calculus as a prerequisite. Does slapping the label “college” on what most folks consider to be a high-school-level class make it “college level” under the statute?

          I’d appreciate a link to the MnSCU report. Thanks.

          • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/20/2014 - 02:30 pm.

            Suggestion: Go to the source

            Amy,

            I honestly can’t answer your question regarding specific math classes at Normandale. I would suggest contacting Normandale directly to ask them. If you ask to speak with their PSEO Coordinator, they usually have a clear idea of which classes are available to PSEO students. I would imagine they already know which classes qualify for state reimbursement under PSEO, and might have an idea why some or all of those classes do or do not.

            After a quick look at their PSEO page, they say courses numbered below 1000 are not eligible for PSEO. Not sure what the courses you cite are numbered at.

  7. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/14/2014 - 06:42 am.

    I’m still waiting

    …for the “gag rule.” Much discussion in the article and comments about what it all means, but, after reading the piece three times – and always making an allowance for creeping senility on my part – I’ve yet to find what the “gag rule” sparking the discussion actually says.

    What are “…the six words,” and what’s their context? I find it difficult to comment on a rule that’s never stated.

    • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/14/2014 - 04:24 pm.

      “on educational and programmatic grounds only”

      Ray-

      The gag rule refers to the fact that although postsecondary folks can tell students and families that PSEO is free to participate in (a basic component, and arguably the whole point of the program), they CANNOT communicate to students and families about the potential college cost savings that students can get from earning some college credits for free while they are still in high school. They can talk about PSEO “on educational and programmatic grounds only.” So those are the 6 words.

      The fact that students can save time and money on their tuition bill is a pretty important piece of information that I think most families would want to know. The problem is that most high schools are not giving accurate info on PSEO, let alone telling families that they can save $ with it. I would hope that allowing postsecondary to communicate this would at least let some additional students know about this opportunity. Especially considering the cost of college and the fact that MN has the 4th highest average student debt load in the nation (more than $31,000).

  8. Submitted by Rod Loper on 05/14/2014 - 06:45 am.

    Where are the. counselors?

    If high schools were staffed with trained counselors, these opportunities would be discussed with students and parents.

  9. Submitted by Jeffrey Kolnick on 05/14/2014 - 08:23 am.

    Using PSEO wisely

    In the spring semester, I had five high school students in my US history class. One way PSEO can work is that students who live close enough to a college or university can attend it at no direct cost to the student or their family. This is the best way PSEO can work and when it works this way, I have only good things to say about it.

    I have a different opinion about PSEO taught in the high schools. Here, I would limit the number of credits that can be earned in this way to no more than twelve (12). A baccalaureate degree is not just about learning things. It is about the total experience of being in college. It is about meeting professors, engaging in collegiate co-curricular activities, meeting new people, and getting out of your comfort zone. It is, simply put, something that cannot happen as intended in high school. Students who take half their college education in high school will, on the whole, get less of an education.

    PSEO is a good thing, but it is not an answer to the savage cuts to higher education that has put the burden of crushing debt on this generation of college students. Rather, the solution is to continue with the project stated by the last legislature: to raise progressive revenue and invest that money in public higher education. Four more sessions like the last one, and we can move from tuition freezes to lowering the cost of public higher education.

    • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/14/2014 - 04:17 pm.

      Let families choose how to use PSEO

      Jeff—

      Just to clarify, PSEO is not “taught in the high schools.” Those are a separate dual credit program. They are Concurrent Enrollment classes (like College in the Schools with the U of M), and are specific agreements that the high school makes with the college and usually contains a component of training and/or mentorship that the high school teachers receive from the college professors.

      Concurrent enrollment classes in the high schools (for college credit) can also be an important opportunity, especially for students who are potential first-generation college students, or who maybe don’t think of themselves as college material. I’ve personally talked to many students who said their whole outlook and plan for life changed once they realized that they CAN do college-level work. Antonia, Khalique, and Jennifer are good examples:
      http://centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit/student-voices-real-dual-credit-students/

      Also, some PSEO courses can be taken online, which might be a good option for students who may not live near a college. Transportation funds are also available from the state to cover transit costs for low-income students. (Incidentally, these are 2 very little known/shared facts about PSEO).

      To your point about being on a college campus, national research has shown that getting HS students on a college campus greatly increases their likelihood of actually enrolling in college, which is obviously especially great for students who would have not been very likely to enter college beforehand. Taking one or two or a semester of classes at a college may be the impetus for them to enroll and complete 1-4 years at a college, when they may not have originally planned to do so. Something to keep in mind too.

      • Submitted by Amy Bergquist on 05/15/2014 - 10:49 am.

        Clarifications on PSEO

        Marisa, to reduce confusion about PSEO and concurrent enrollment classes, the Center for School Change might want to change the language on its website, which suggests that concurrent enrollment classes are part of PSEO:

        When people hear “PSEO,” they tend to think of high school students taking a course — taught by a college instructor — on a college or university campus. However, there are at least three other ways you can participate:
        Courses at your high school taught by a qualified high school instructor (see concurrent enrollment);
        Courses at your high school taught by a college instructor (see concurrent enrollment);
        Courses offered online or via ITV at your high school taught by a college instructor.

        http://centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit/pseo/

        • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/20/2014 - 02:06 pm.

          You’re right

          Amy,

          You’re right. The information on that page was not clear and needed to be updated. Thank you for pointing that out. It has now been updated and clarified:

          http://centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit/pseo/

          But it is interesting, even MDE and MnSCU sometimes admit that in collecting and reporting their data on PSEO and concurrent enrollment, the line between the two can be challenging to keep clear. But in the end, whatever you want to call it, students are getting better prepared for college. And hopefully saving some money too.

  10. Submitted by jody rooney on 05/14/2014 - 08:53 am.

    I must live in an odd district

    The opportunity for PSEO seems to be well known.

    Fifteen years ago my neighbor’s daughter had her cosmetology license when she graduated from high school and immediately went to work. My son in law completed his first year of college while a senior in high school under the same program. So it seems to work for students who are seeking both technical education and 4 year college degrees.

    It seems to me with skills programs such as “shop” disappearing from secondary school curriculum, and the need for more licensed LPN’s etc. that this needs to be a viable option for kids that would succeed in those career paths.

    A friend of mine grew up in Austria many years ago and their school system was designed so that at the end of either their 18th or 19th year they would have had the equivalent of a two year degree from a college.

    One has to ask is our education system designed for producing the best out comes or are we artificially prolonging childhood and holding our children back?

    • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/14/2014 - 03:46 pm.

      Yes, you might

      Jody-

      It’s great news that people in your community have information on PSEO. The unfortunate fact is that many other communities are not as “lucky.” Please take a look at this chart of participation rates in MN across the 4 most common Dual Credit programs in MN– AP, IB, College in the Schools, and PSEO. Data is from the MN Dept. of Ed:
      http://centerforschoolchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/RigorousCourseTaking2012-Data-Table-v21.pdf

      You will notice that in almost all cases, students of color and those from low-income families are extremely underrepresented in these programs. Frankly, a lot of times folks in those communities have never even heard of PSEO, let alone know anything about how it works. This is simply not fair. It is MN law that everyone hears about this opportunity and, if qualified, has the option to participate.

      And yes, PSEO works well for both those interested in a 4 year degree, as well as 1 or 2 year degrees and certificate programs. It can really serve a wide range of students and interests. In the least, they deserve to know about it.

  11. Submitted by Jim Ramlet on 05/14/2014 - 10:57 am.

    I, too, must live in an odd district

    At my older son’s school, there have been meetings explaining PSEO options, including one meeting where a representative from the University of Minnesota PSEO program spoke. And I believe the point was made that all expenses are covered by the state, so I’m a little unclear as to the gag rule that has been imposed.

    It is my understanding, however, that PSEO is not always as simple as it first appears. Depending on where the student takes PSEO classes, and, far more importantly, where the student attends college, credit hours earned as a PSEO student are not automatically accepted (do not transfer) at the student’s college of choice. When it comes to the possibility of completing two years of college while still in high school, the only guaranteed way that I have uncovered is to be accepted to the PSEO program at the University of Minnesota, then attend the University of Minnesota as a college student. As the student would have taken all their classes at the U, it follows that all those credit hours would transfer. If a student ended up attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison, however, it is quite possible that a number of those credit hours already earned would not be accepted by Wisconsin. I believe the same would apply for a student attending a private college; the private college may or may not accept any of the credit hours earned as a PSEO student.

    It is also my understanding that there is a gentlemen’s agreement where a high school student who does their PSEO work at a school such as MCTC or Normandale will have all their credit hours transfer to any MnSCU college, but I haven’t done the research to see if that is actually true.

    PSEO can be wonderful for the right student in the right situation, but it should not be seen as an automatic way to have two years of college completed upon graduating from high school.

    • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/14/2014 - 03:58 pm.

      Yes, you might too

      Jim-

      I would share with you the same info I just replied to Jody with:

      It’s great news that people in your community have information on PSEO. The unfortunate fact is that many other communities are not as “lucky.” Please take a look at this chart of participation rates in MN across the 4 most common Dual Credit programs in MN– AP, IB, College in the Schools, and PSEO. Data is from the MN Dept. of Ed.
      http://centerforschoolchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/RigorousCourseTaking2012-Data-Table-v21.pdf

      You will notice that in almost all cases, students of color and those from low-income families are extremely underrepresented in these programs. Frankly, a lot of times folks in those communities have never even heard of PSEO, let alone know anything about how it works. This is simply not fair. It is MN law that everyone hears about this opportunity and, if qualified, has the option to participate.

      You also bring up a good point about transferability of credits. That is a consideration students/families need to take into account. It is not just a ‘gentlemen’s agreement,’ but actually formal policy that any credits taken at MnSCU or UofM schools will be accepted across both of those systems (although some credits could be accepted as elective). But you are correct when you say out-of-state schools and private schools can choose whether to accept or not. Here is a map of MN public and nonprofit postsecondary schools’ policies on PSEO credit acceptance that I hope is helpful for students and families:
      http://centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit/map-of-mn-higher-ed-dual-credit-policies-pseo-sites/

      The gag rule refers to the fact that although postsecondary folks can tell students and families that PSEO is free to participate in (a basic component, and arguably the whole point of the program), they CANNOT communicate to students and families about the potential college cost savings that students can get from earning some college credits for free while they are still in high school. They can talk about PSEO on “educational and programmatic grounds only.”

      The fact that students can save time and money on their tuition bill is a pretty important piece of information that I think most families would want to know. The problem is that most high schools are not giving accurate info on PSEO, let alone telling families that they can save $ with it. I would hope that allowing postsecondary to communicate this would at least let some additional students know about this opportunity. Especially considering the cost of college and the fact that MN has the 4th highest average student debt load in the nation (more than $31,000).

  12. Submitted by Joe Nathan on 05/15/2014 - 12:37 am.

    PSEO is one of several good options – facts needed

    Here are 3 facts that might be useful:
    1. MDE figures show that there were about 62,000 enrollments in AP, IB or College in the Schools, and about 6,300 enrollments in AP in the most recent year for which data is available.

    2. There is no guarantee that any of these programs will be accepted at every college or university in the country. Minnesota public colleges and universities are required to accept PSEO and College in the Schools courses for credit. Other colleges and universities may decide which to accept. As Marisa mentions, Center for School Change has a interactive map on our website showing the dual credit acceptance policies of Mn public and private college
    http://centerforschoolchange.org/dual-credit/map-of-mn-higher-ed-dual-credit-policies-pseo-sites/

    3. AP, IB, and College in the Schools are fine options for many students. High schools have expanded the number of these options in part because PSEO exists.

  13. Submitted by Amy Bergquist on 05/15/2014 - 09:43 am.

    Am I missing something here?

    I just don’t understand what the harm is with the current “gag rule.” Marisa Gustafson, from the Center for School Change, writes in a comment above:

    “[A]lthough postsecondary folks can tell students and families that PSEO is free to participate in (a basic component, and arguably the whole point of the program), they CANNOT communicate to students and families about the potential college cost savings that students can get from earning some college credits for free while they are still in high school.”

    So, if I understand correctly, post-secondary institutions can tell people:
    (1) PSEO allows high school students to enroll in college courses and earn college credit; and
    (2) PSEO allows high school students to earn those credits free of charge.

    Are people really suggesting that some harm is being done because post-secondary institutions are not allowed to connect the very obvious dots and tell people that (1) + (2) = “potential college cost savings”? Seriously?

    And supposedly this “gag rule” has an unfair, discriminatory effect on students of color and students from low-income families?

    If there is a problem, it seems it’s not the “gag rule,” but that (1) + (2) are not being communicated effectively in some schools or to some student populations. Marisa states above that current Minnesota law requires that “everyone hears about this opportunity.” If so, the problem is not the “gag rule” in the existing law, but ineffective implementation of the existing law.

    • Submitted by Marisa Gustafson on 05/20/2014 - 03:06 pm.

      Ask around (in a variety of communities)

      Amy-

      Agreed– the crux of the problem is that #1 and #2 are not being communicated effectively. This is an issue that has frustrated legislators, and why they have agreed to re-examine the law to see what improvements can be made.

      Our organization has surveyed PSEO info distributed by high schools across the state on their websites and registration materials. Out of 94 high schools, more than 90% of them are not giving up-to-date or complete info on PSEO. I’m not saying these are the only 2 places they might be conveying this information, but they are certainly 2 very important places.

      Now keep in mind that districts are required by law to inform “all pupils in grades 8, 9, 10, and 11” of PSEO. So, yes, the issue is ‘ineffective implementation.’ And we have worked with the MN Department of Ed to make sure they have shared with and encouraged districts to follow the law. MDE has sent out notices with up-to-date info, put it on their website, and held meetings around the state with sups and principals, but as evidenced by our recent survey and the countless times I have personally heard a student or parent say “How come I’ve never even heard about this?” this clearly is not happening at an effective scale.

      Now if someone had the time and resources to monitor the high schools to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing in terms of PSEO specifically, this probably wouldn’t be an issue. But no one does.

      So the strategy with this effort was to open the lines of communication so that colleges and universities could step in and fill that gap in communication. Not the best case scenario, but better than the many students and families not having the information they have a right to know. Some would argue that allowing colleges to talk about the financial benefits of PSEO, just as high schools are (appropriately) allowed to do about AP, IB, CIS, etc., is an issue of free speech.

      And as evidenced by the data table I linked to earlier, students of color and low-income students’ participation rates lag way behind others. I think this is at least in part due to those communities not being privvy to the same info as others.

      Anecdotally, in my experience performing outreach around dual credit (All forms– AP, IB, CIS, PSEO, CLEP), the few students who have heard about PSEO almost always heard about it through a friend, relative, or neighbor. Some communities know, and some don’t.

      I would suggest that you ask around your community, and then a variety of other communities, to see if they know anything about PSEO. If they do, see if they have accurate information. Let me know what you find.

      ****Importantly, and to-the-point: What legitimate reasoning is there to tell a certain group of institutions that they are explicitly prohibited from telling the public about a publicly-funded program FOR THE PUBLIC?****

  14. Submitted by Beth Hawkins on 05/16/2014 - 09:58 am.

    Geez, guys–sorry!

    Usually when a thread has this many comments the reporter tries to dip back in. But I see y’all are doing a pretty good job of asserting facts and countering said assertions. So, just two things. One: The measure was amended in the wee hours so that districts with 7oo or fewer students may retain the gag; it’s lifted for everyone else for five years. I find this curious, given that small and outstate districts are least likely to find themselves in the position Amy’s high school was in. 

    Two: Ray asked for the proposed statute language. The ink isn’t dry on last night’s version with the aforementioned caveat; here’s the language the story referenced. For those of you who don’t spend a lot of time reading legislation, anything in strikethrough is going away and anything underlined is going in. 

    The bill land


    86.31
        Sec. 31. Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 124D.09, subdivision 7, is amended to read:
    86.32    Subd. 7. Dissemination of information; notification of intent to enroll. By March 
    86.331 of each year, a district must provide general up-to-date information on the district’s 
    86.34Web site and in materials that are distributed to parents and students about the program
    87.1including information about enrollment requirements and the ability to earn postsecondary 
    87.2credit to all pupils in grades 8, 9, 10, and 11. To assist the district in planning, a pupil shall 
    87.3inform the district by May 30 of each year of the pupil’s intent to enroll in postsecondary 
    87.4courses during the following school year. A pupil is bound by notifying or not notifying 
    87.5the district by May 30.

    87.6    Sec. 32. Minnesota Statutes 2012, section 124D.09, subdivision 9, is amended to read:
    87.7    Subd. 9. Enrollment priority. (a) A postsecondary institution shall give priority 
    87.8to its postsecondary students when enrolling 10th, 11th, and 12th grade pupils in its 
    87.9courses. A postsecondary institution may provide information about its programs to a 
    87.10secondary school or to a pupil or parent and it may advertise or otherwise recruit or solicit 
    87.11a secondary pupil to enroll in its programs on educational and programmatic grounds only. 
    87.12An institution must not enroll secondary pupils, for postsecondary enrollment options 
    87.13purposes, in remedial, developmental, or other courses that are not college level. Once 
    87.14a any pupil has been enrolled in a postsecondary course under this section, the pupil 
    87.15shall not be displaced by another student.

  15. Submitted by Joe Nathan on 05/17/2014 - 05:56 am.

    Families & students mostly won

    The Legislature ultimately decided to listen to and support requests from families and students for accurate up to date information about PSEO from high schools and higher education.

    The decision may be viewed as a clear, strong message to school board, superintendent and secondary principals who lobbied hard against key provisions that were adopted.

    Special thanks to Growth and Justice, Chicano Latino Affairs Council, Minnesota College Student Association, Minnesota Business Partnership and Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, plus hundreds of individual students and parents. These groups worked together with a number of others, convincing legislators that more information would be valuable.

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