Our best students, those who were college bound, were held back by insane bureaucracy. Holding back bright students appeared to me as counter intuitive. Being a businessman, a manufacturer for the past thirty-six years, I sought a solution to the problem.
I began teaching at St. Bernard Community College as an adjunct in the late 1980s because I loved it. In 2000 I retired from my business and became a full-time history professor at Nunez Community College. I still love it! Once on fulltime status, I worked with the President of the St. Bernard School Board (Diana Dysart) and the local Chalmette Refinery which graciously subsidized two classes per year at the local high school where I taught Western Civilization I & II. The point being I wanted these honor students to have a college experience and gain some college credit while in high school.
When my daughter entered her junior year in high school she enrolled in Nunez. After four semesters at Nunez and one summer at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN she entered college at the University of Southern Mississippi with fourteen college credits and a 3.9 overall. She finished in four years Suma Cum Laude.
Soon the Louisiana Early Start Program became official. Immediately, Dual Enrollment (A title for high school students enrolled in college courses) became a critical component in the seamless transition from high school to college for many students. In fact, many of our “Dualies” are our better students, and they are fully prepared for the college experience once they leave us for the university.
Everyone in Louisiana should be proud of this successful Program. Perhaps forward thinking programs like this could allow us to move beyond being 49th in state educational rankings. Just this past Fall (2011) 11,113 students took advantage of this program in colleges and universities throughout the state accounting for 32,629 credit hours. That does not account for Spring and Summer numbers which would better than double the 11,000 admitted in the Fall.
Since the TOPS program only pays for four years, having top notch high school seniors and juniors take college courses while in high school allows them to finish in the four years TOPS allows. Many have completed a full semester of work prior to their official freshman year.
One would think everyone would be proud of this accomplishment and seek to see that all students and parents learn of its advantages. Unfortunately, we live in Louisiana. The program was so good that the governor cut it from his budget!
by Ron Chapman
DO YOU AGREE OR DISAGREE WITH THIS COLUMN? LOGIN WITH FACEBOOK AND TELL US BELOW HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT THESE ISSUES. YOUR COMMENTS WILL APPEAR ON YOUR FACEBOOK PAGE. ALSO, IF YOU LIKE THIS COLUMN, PLEASE HIT THE RECOMMEND BUTTON BELOW AND/OR USE THE SOCIAL MEDIA BUTTONS. THANK YOU.