Staff Editorial: One size fits all not applicable to College Credit Plus programming

The rotunda of our state legislature is not a crystal ball through which the future of every Ohio school district can be divined. It cannot reasonably foresee the alchemical addition of $30,000 to fund opportunities the Mason City Schools district has long offered, yet that is exactly the premise of College Credit Plus (CCP).

Intended to equalize opportunity for dual enrollment, the program is invaluable to students in districts without our Advanced Placement opportunities. In these districts, the program may offer a greater educational depth or expose students to college early and encourage them to pursue higher education.

As an unfunded mandate, however, these college credit hours come right out of the district’s budget, regardless of each individual district’s needs. The law doesn’t differentiate Mason from Colerain, Colerain from Little Miami, Little Miami from Lakota East, yet each district’s needs are different. Most students who are participating in CCP are taking courses offered within our walls: Psychology, Calculus, Physics, Biology.

CCP students, however, are not pickpocketing Mason taxpayers to pay for their college educations: they are simply taking advantage of an unsurpassable opportunity bestowed upon all Ohio students. Some CCP students are taking high-level courses that are not provided by Mason, like American Sign Language and Multivariable Calculus, which fulfills CCP’s intent: to forge opportunity where a district cannot. But the way CCP has been implemented, there exists ample room for manipulation of the program.

Should these students pursue higher education outside of Ohio, the majority of their credits will not transfer. Our district will have invested in these students, at the expense of half of another AP teacher’s salary, and they will not even reap the benefits.

Sinclair set up shop in our backyard for a reason: with our high school funneling money into their reserves, the community college is the true profiteer. What is most concerning, however, is not the twisted gold chain but the availability of this program to students as young as seventh grade.

A semester college course is equal to a full year of a high school course and grants a Mason student AP credit – that divine 0.03. With an academic culture so competitive that class ranks are cloaked, it is not unlikely that the CCP program will become witchcraft for aspiring valedictorians, a way to magic GPAs into the triple digits. The next valedictorian may stand on stage in front of the Class of 2017, or 2018, or 2019 and recognize no one, because he or she has not stepped foot on a Mason campus since sixth grade.

This is why, outside of the school’s mandatory information meeting for the program, we never advertise College Credit Plus. This is how it went on for a year, and we are just now hearing about it. This is its disappearing act.

The school has nothing to gain from the program – it loses students, money, and even its own school board, a school board that is essentially rendered useless, a school board whose decisions are largely that of a figurehead, a mirage of an influence, because the rotunda in Columbus has eclipsed any voice we may have in the fate of our own district.

While CCP has an excellent intent, the rotunda in Columbus has an increasingly large amount of power over education in Ohio, so much so that it blurs the lines between high school and college. It muddles a district’s responsibility to prepare its students for higher education and pay for that higher education. It has left gaps for students to wield the program regardless of its intent, at the expense of the district, taxpayers, and students who remain in MCS. Without the flexibility to adapt to each district’s needs, it is just another curse.