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posted by n1 on Friday April 18 2014, @08:08AM   Printer-friendly
from the gambling-with-education dept.

Alternet reports on eduction reform in Tennessee.

The Tennessee House and Senate have approved a measure that allows for two free years of tuition at community colleges or technical schools for all the state's high school graduates. The proposal not only has the backing of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, it was based on his idea.

Moreover, the legislation passed by an overwhelming majority. The state's House of Representatives voted in favor of the legislation with a 87-8 margin.

When the plan, called Tennessee Promise, becomes law, [it] should provide free higher education for about 25,000 students in the state beginning in 2015. It will only benefit incoming freshmen. College sophomores attending two year schools in 2015 will not be able to participate in the plan, but will still be eligible for other state financial aid programs.

The estimated cost of the program is $34 [million] annually. Money will be transferred from the proceeds of the Tennessee Lottery to create an endowment for the program.

A similar proposal in 2007 failed.

In 1960, California was the first state to suspend college tuition. After President Reagan's cuts, the state dropped that program in 1984. Despite that, California's public colleges still have the lowest tuition rates in the country.

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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by dcollins on Friday April 18 2014, @03:10PM

    by dcollins (1168) on Friday April 18 2014, @03:10PM (#33091) Homepage

    Remember, kids, in Tennessee only 11.3% of community college students graduate within 3 years of when they start. So this funding program (not unlike a lot of states now) will be about 90% waste? Perhaps worse if it entices even less-well prepared students to attend. Depending on how much BS the high school degree is, it may pressure the community colleges to reduce standards in exchange for the funding, not avoid showing atrocious graduation rates, and thus produce similar BS value for their associates degrees.

    That's a description of a good part of my job in NY state, working at what's considered the best community college, but still 2/3 of our students can never pass remedial 7th-grade algebra even after numerous attempts (likewise across the nation). Yet state financial aid actually requires that they register for full-load classes for two years while this plays out. What a waste of resources. e=tn&sector=public_two []

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18 2014, @05:09PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 18 2014, @05:09PM (#33133)

    It is a community college. Some people that go are working and thus take a little longer. Many adults that already have bachelors degrees take a class or two for education, not a degree. Each one of those adults that take one summer class on how to use a welder or sign language or whatever interests them drags the graduation rate down.

    Essentially, because community colleges focus on community education, not pumping out degree holders the most worthless statistic to judge community colleges by is their graduation rate.

    • (Score: 1) by dcollins on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09AM

      by dcollins (1168) on Monday April 21 2014, @06:09AM (#33864) Homepage

      Incorrect. People that take one class (continuing education, etc.) are not counted in those statistics. The figures counted towards graduation are strictly "full-time equivalent undergraduates, based on total credit hours taken" (see linked site above, bottom of page). So even restricting ourselves only to full-time enrollees pursuing a 2-year degree, still only about 10% get a degree in 3 years.

      Consider the experience in NY state (where I've taught at a community college for 10 years). The state funds most students (TAP: Tuition Assistance Program) for 2 years, but only if those students are full-time enrollees. Among the pressures this creates are people working full-time being incented to simultaneously register for a full load of courses, which they generally can't handle at the same time (numerous classes will be automatic failures). When the TAP runs out after 2 years, they're now in a "sunk cost" situation where they're paying for the remaining classes out-of-pocket. If there's one class they absolutely cannot pass (for most: remedial 7th grade algebra), then they become committed to paying for, and re-taking, that class for possibly several years. It's an ugly situation and causes a lot of cutting corners around the standards and requirements.