An Open Letter to the Georgia General Assembly: Why House Bill 444 is Harmful to Georgia Students

Georgia%27s+lesgislative+headquarters%2C+the+gold-domed+Capitol+Building.

Photo courtesy of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Georgia's lesgislative headquarters, the gold-domed Capitol Building.

Keegan Brooks, Staff Writer

Dear Members of the Georgia General Assembly,

Every year, tens of thousands of students in Georgia benefit from taking dual enrollment classes. However, a recently proposed piece of legislation may threaten that. This letter concerns House Bill 444, which was recently passed in the House of Representatives and is moving on to the Senate. House Bill 444 will negatively impact students in Georgia with the mandated thirty credit hour cap on state-funded dual enrollment courses. I believe it should not be passed.

I am currently a sophomore and have not personally taken any dual enrollment classes. However, I have friends currently taking dual enrollment classes as juniors and seniors. Additionally, my mother is an English professor at Georgia State University and has had the experience of teaching many dual enrollment students from Georgia high schools. She has had first-hand experience and believes in the benefits this opportunity affords these students. She has often helped these students by writing recommendation letters for their college applications.

According to the Georgia Student Finance Commission, in the 2019 fiscal year, 6,397 of the total 51,298 dual enrollment students took more than thirty credit hours of college courses. Equivalent to approximately 12.5% of Georgia dual enrollment students, these students will suffer the consequences of this bill. Keep in mind that dual enrollment is not something that happens only in one year. Some students may wish to take dual enrollment classes their junior year, and full time dual enroll senior year, which would likely exceed the limit set by this bill.

First, this bill negatively impacts many college-bound students, especially low-income students.  Taking dual enrollment classes is a great way for students to get a head start on college and avoid unnecessary student loans. Getting this head start on college credits will allow students to enter the workforce in a shorter period of time, benefiting Georgia’s labor force and the overall economy.

Second, this bill negatively impacts students who have exhausted the courses available for them at their high school. This can include both students going to small high schools with small course offerings, or students who have passed the highest level of a subject(s) offered at their school. For example, I know people at my school who have finished the highest level math courses my school offers and have no choice but to dual enroll if they wish to keep on taking math. Public schools are supposed to accommodate all students, and dual enrollment is one resource for accomplishing this goal.

Third, this bill reducing the number of allowed courses to regular academic courses and courses in career pathways hurts students that want to take fine arts courses not offered by their school. Dual enrollment is not just meant for taking strictly core academic classes, and fine arts courses are a key part of our public education system.

Lastly, this bill is not the most effective way to accomplish its actual goal. Governor Brian Kemp and representatives in favor of the bill have argued that the intent of the bill is to reduce costs of the dual enrollment program. However, according to the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, current dual enrollment spending takes up less than one percent of Georgia’s total public K-12 and higher education spending. Therefore, there must be other options for reducing spending that should be explored. House Bill 444 even defines the following as objectives of the dual enrollment program: “promote and increase access to postsecondary educational opportunities for Georgia high school students,” “shorten the time and cost to postsecondary credential completion,” and “prepare a skilled workforce.” Will limiting the number of dual enrollment courses help in accomplishing these tasks?

Dual enrollment courses allow for students to get a head start on college, reduce student debt, take classes unavailable at their high school, and overall increase their education. I urge the Georgia General Assembly to reconsider the impacts of House Bill 444 and its impact on students.

Sincerely, 

Keegan Brooks

To read The Blue & Gold’s news coverage of House Bill 444, click here.