Equal credit for equal work

Why college in the high school needs to be amended

Trevor Sytsma, Editor-In-Chief

Ever heard the phrase “equal pay for equal work?” Since the 1963 Equal Pay Act, and even as recently as last month’s State of the Union address, advocates of gender equality have asserted a woman’s right to receive the same pay as a man for performing the same duties. This concept of providing equal benefits for those doing the same work is an inherently American ideal.

Well, apparently the Washington state legislature didn’t get the memo.

Current state legislation states “Eleventh and twelfth grade students or students who have not yet received a high school diploma or its equivalent and are eligible to be in the eleventh or twelfth grade may participate in the college in the high school program,” effectively denying freshmen and sophomores in College in the High School (CHS) classes from receiving college credit.

Until this school year, underclassmen in CHS Spanish and French classes at Liberty were able to earn the standard five University of Washington credits for taking a third year language course. However, when UW discovered last year that it wasn’t complying with state law, the opportunity was revoked.

But why does this legislation exist at all? Underclassmen in CHS courses do the same work as juniors and seniors, yet they’re denied college credit. It makes no sense that a sophomore could get the same grade, or higher, in CHS Spanish 3 than a junior, yet the junior would get the college credit.

Also, consider the financial stake in earning college credit in high school: CHS allows students to earn a college credit at a vastly lower cost than they would if they were to take the course in college. This isn’t just a credit issue; it’s a financial one. State law is depriving students of the opportunity to save money for college, simply because they’ve been deemed “too young” to earn the credit.

But maybe the worst consequence of this legislation is its effect on Maywood’s language programs. Students who take Spanish or French 1 as eighth graders at Maywood will take CHS Spanish or French 3 as sophomores. But, based on grade level alone, these students won’t be able to receive college credit. And think about it: aren’t the students who decide to take Spanish or French 1 as eighth graders typically the more qualified students in the first place?

In some respects, it would (unfortunately) make sense for eighth graders to elect to take Spanish and French 1 courses as freshmen instead. That way, when they reach CHS classes as juniors, they’ll be eligible to actually earn college credit for their efforts.

As a result of this legislation, Maywood’s language programs, which were created to be accelerators of learning, have inadvertently become inhibitors of opportunity. As a result, they’ll likely lose otherwise interested students. Clearly, this law is a detriment to not only Maywood’s language department, but inevitably, Liberty’s.

I argue not for my sake, but that of my little sister, an incredibly hardworking and talented Spanish 1 student at Maywood. I would hate to see a piece of legislation take away an opportunity for reward from her that she so thoroughly deserves.

But until our state legislature adopts the policy of equal credit for equal work, Washington’s CHS courses will unjustifiably fail to reward eighth graders like my sister and current CHS underclassmen for their dedication to learning. That’s why I’ve contacted our state legislators explaining my frustrations, and I hope you will too.