Time to Act
Area charter schools and traditional school districts should begin the discussion now about whether or not to pursue the choice options that the recently passed legislation, Mastery Advancement Pilot Program can provide for students and parents. The passage of this legislation (House Bill 493) is truly significant and can help Idaho families and students in a number of ways. Unfortunately, it is a “pilot program” and only 21 school districts and 3 charter schools will be accepted into the program. Program applications will be made available by mid July from the State Department of Education and those applying districts and/or schools must have their applications submitted by September 1, 2010.
Why should a charter schools or a school district even bother to get involved in this program? In general, schools should apply and take advantage of it if accepted, because it can empower students with some ownership of their education decisions. Specifically, it could benefit students and parents financially by reducing the cost of a college education. Here is how that might work for some students. This program will allow a student to challenge classes beginning in elementary school and finish the grade k-12 curriculum up to 3 years early. Essentially, this means that a student could take college level classes at their home high school for 1 or 2 years and have a 2-year degree by the time they are 18 years old. Then they could elect to enroll in one of our public institutions of higher education and have only one or two years left to obtain a 4-year college degree. A college education, even at our state supported universities is expensive, so if a student could eliminate one or two years of that cost, the savings are significant. You can do the math, but it is not a stretch to see possible savings of $25 to $30,000 for a student participating in this program.
Obviously this program is not for every student, but every school and district has one or more who could benefit by it. Every school and district should try to take advantage of it for the good of their students.
Schools wishing a briefing on this new legislation are invited to contact the co-sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Steven Thayn.