Students in favor of ed proposal

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 14, 2005

NATCHEZ &045;&045; If Gov. Haley Barbour’s education plan receives approval in the Legislature, Natchez High teacher Irma Caldwell may have a few more papers to grade next year.

One portion of Barbour’s &uot;UpGrade&uot; plan would make dual-enrollment college courses available for free to all high school students meeting GPA requirements. A version of the proposal setting the GPA at 3.0 passed the House Education Committee Thursday.

About 30 NHS students are already taking Caldwell’s dual-enrollment English class, but not for free. The students pay $100 a semester, while the school is picking up $200. Under Barbour’s plan the district would pay the whole cost.

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&uot;You would have a lot more people in here if it was free,&uot; NHS senior Lacy Vines said.

Vines and her classmates will have six hours college credit if they pass the class. Caldwell, who also teaches freshman English at Copiah-Lincoln, says her NHS curriculum is exactly the same as Co-Lin’s.

The students said they thought making the class more available to all students was a good move for education in the state.

&uot;It would reach more children,&uot; Jasmen Jones said. &uot;Money holds most of them back.&uot;

Alex Tordon agreed, saying she knew other students who were eligible for the class based on grades.

&uot;The kids that are not as fortunate with money, they are still just as smart, it’s just the money.&uot;

The cost of the writing-intensive class makes getting a passing grade that much more important, though, Stephanie Jamison said.

&uot;My mom’s going to kill me if I waste $100,&uot; Jamison said. &uot;Some (students) would join and not take it as seriously.&uot;

Caldwell agreed, saying she’s gotten calls from parents checking to see how their child is doing before they agree to foot the bill.

Currently English is the only dual-enrollment class offered at the high school, though students can also sign up for online AP courses and receive college credit after taking the AP exam.

Principal James Loftin has said he would like to see more courses added.

&uot;I wish they’d have more,&uot; Marlaine Woodfork said. &uot;I’d take them if there were more, but this is the only one they had.&uot;

The dual-enrollment proposal is only one part of the governor’s &uot;UpGrade&uot; plan, which also includes pay for performance for teachers, accountability exemptions for successful schools and the final installment of an 8 percent teacher pay raise.

A House Education subcommittee has made several changes to the bill so far, and it will ultimately face approval by the entire House.