Overcoming crowded classrooms is easy enough if you simply get rid of the students. Thanks to a new law passed by the Florida Legislature, high school students can now opt out of senior year completely and escape high school even earlier.
Senate Bill 30A aims to clear up space in Florida’s crowded classrooms by flat-out getting rid of the students. This is a plan lawmakers hope will alleviate problems but may cause more in the long run.
The law provides students with the choice between two new credit sequences for graduation. A 3-year college preparatory program and a 3-year career preparatory program, both of which are made up of 18-credits each, as opposed to the more familiar twenty-four credits making up the four-year standard sequence. The new options eliminate economics, liberal arts, and higher-level mathematics and science courses as well as electives including physical education and life management courses, among others. The student can replace these courses with extra English credits and two credits in a foreign language. The temptation for students proficient in English and struggling with mathematics is all too apparent.
Many critics of the law are concerned that the life and learning experiences gained during high school senior year will be bypassed as well.
Adjusting to college life is not easy, especially if you are not mature enough for it. Programs like dual-enrollment and early admissions courses that coincide with community colleges have been successful in the past, offering a gradual transition from high school to college for students considered too young for college. Enrolled in college, but still in high school, students are spared the extra stress of full time college..
It is disturbing when the lawmakers themselves cannot predict the negative effects that may result from the new program. Linda Eichas, a guidance counselor in Broward County (one of the first to implement the law) admitted to the Associated Press to not knowing the “downside” of the plan: “One parent’s first question was, ‘what’s the downside,’ and I told them ‘you’re going to have to tell me in 12 months because we haven’t really discovered the downsides yet.”
Here’s a downside to consider: What if the student changes his or her mind? Is there a guarantee that colleges will accept fewer credits, or will participating in this program limit their college options?
This law should not have been passed until these questions had been successfully answered, but, as it has passed already, education officials need to come up with the answers quickly.