Jul 172007
 
Authors: Sean Reed

I guess the Colorado Commission on Higher Education thought that our starving educational system needed another challenge.

Why else would they have ignored the pleas of school districts and college administrators to hold off on stricter requirements for college admittance for two more years?

These new requirements – that each student take four years of English and math, three years of science and social studies, and one year of foreign language – have left school districts panicked, according to a Denver Post story from last week.

While I am all for this overhaul in educational policy, I do take issue with the commission’s decision for a couple of reasons.

Foremost, drastic changes in requirements like these are going to cost money – money that many districts, especially rural ones, may not be able to come up with.

In order to offer more classes, new teachers and new materials will need to be purchased.

All of this, however, will be made much more difficult due to the fact that the promise of Referendum C – that a good chunk of it would be going to education – has turned out to be untrue.

The referendum, however, advertised to voters as a way to get money into our starving higher education and medical programs, has actually ended up putting $1.7 billion towards transportation, according to a different report by the Post.

This is because the law limits the growth of the operating budget of the state to a mere six percent.

Unfortunately for school districts, as agencies directly regulated by the state, increases in funding through the state are tied to this limitation, so they are unable to reap the benefits promised by the measure.

With already strained budgets and no immediate hope for more funding, it’s no surprise that schools are a bit upset.

I mean, for the most part, according to the Post, most students being admitted to college still aren’t meeting the standards set for them in 2003.

In addition, to setting higher standards that schools don’t have funding for, the CCHE took a ginormous step backward by lowering the foreign language requirement from two years per student to one.

As America continues to grow more diverse, it would seem that now, more than ever, it is important for students to be able to communicate with other cultures.

The US Census Bureau projects that the Asian and Hispanic populations will triple by 2050, and at that time, Caucasians will only account for about 50 percent of the population.

In addition, as businesses continue to grow and expand overseas, it would seem advantageous to students to try to learn another language.

And yet, in the face of all these persuasive reasons to push for more foreign language requirements, we see the state backing off.

I have a variety of theories on this subject, but they all basically come down to the bad attitude that we as Americans seem to have to the rest of the world.

We want everybody to accommodate us – our language, our philosophy, our endless wars – and are unwilling to acknowledge that maybe we need to broaden our horizons.

If we continue this unwillingness to open our minds, we’ll soon find that our ability to progress as a nation will be challenged.

It’s the same story with the CCHE. They want so badly to make higher education better, they are ignoring the very voices that could help them do it.

If you want your pipes fixed, you ask a plumber. If the electricity is out of whack, you go to an electrician.

If this committee is serious about fixing higher ed, they need to ask teachers. And what’s more, they need to start listening too.

Editorials editor Sean Reed is a junior political science major. His column appears weekly in the summer Collegian edition. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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