By Brian Boecherer
As I write this article for our newsletter, the week of Thanksgiving, I am recalling the arguments of the book again in response to an editorial in the Chronicle of Higher Education
Dr. Gilbert is imbedding many assumptions about the nature of inequality into his editorial, but the point I believe he is trying to make is that a heterogeneous group of students makes for more diverse classroom discussions. This is certainly true; however, his argument, which is anecdotal, only holds together if we limit the arena to select general education courses at a university. His observations that concurrent enrollment is contributing to inequality does not consider the arena of the high school nor does it consider the issue of being admitted to a university. It does not consider that when a university invests in a quality connection with high school faculty, staff, and students, the entire educational enterprise benefits. The more we develop the partnerships, the more diverse populations that can benefit from this option.
It is important to start the conversation with framing the original intention of our program, that is, to make the senior year in high school more interesting, engaging, and beneficial for both students and instructors. UConn is the oldest concurrent enrollment program in the country, so the national conversation starts here in Connecticut. In 1954 Provost Waugh suggested that if we can work with the best and most credentialed high school instructors in the State, we can create an educational system that transforms all levels of high school education so that lower level classes prepare students for UConn courses – whether they be taught at the high school or at UConn itself. Provost Waugh also wanted to combat the problem of seniorities, something he attributed to boredom in the classroom. When you look at education as being a lifetime pursuit and on a continuum, the ability to offer college courses while in high school often rescues students and instructors by offering differentiated learning. Using the arguments of Dr. Sen, we are increasing the development in the high school, which results in increased student access, an awakening of one’s own academic interests, and the ability to invest in different University classes before going to college. As we seek to work with all high schools at an affordable rate and waive student fees for those in need, we are investing in the development of Connecticut.
There are many studies that suggest that when a student changes majors in college that their time to degree completion increases, which increases student debt, and delays entry into the job market or a more advanced degree. When students earn credits through UConn ECE, they are earning a currency which increases their competitiveness
What we do, collectively, is offer students freedom through development. Concurrent enrollment is the best system to provide this freedom at an affordable rate. I am suspicious of arguments, like Dr. Gilbert’s, which suggest that concurrent enrollment is contributing to inequality and that the only answer is to end these partnerships between high schools and universities. The pursuit of equality should not result in a lowering of the ceiling so no school and no student grows higher than another. We need to offer a diversity of opportunities, because we live in a world of diversity.
I hope you enjoy this year’s ECE newsletter magazine, it is filled with articles that highlight our engagement as a community and reminds us of why we commit to this task. Our best remedy to inequality is education and access.Concurrent enrollment is a model of development as