Politics & Government

Remedial-class payment idea discussed

TOPEKA — A proposal to a House committee to have Kansas high schools pay for remedial college courses taken by their graduates inspired dialogue Tuesday about the preparedness of the state's high school graduates but found little support for passage.

"Our discussion was very good and there were a lot of ideas and thoughts exchanged, but my sense is there isn't going to be anything more we'll do with this particular bill," said Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, chair of the House Education Budget Committee.

House Bill 2248, sponsored by Rep. Charlotte O'Hara, R-Overland Park, would have the state's colleges submit to the state Department of Education the costs of remedial classes taken by individual students. The department would deduct the cost of the course from the base aid of that student's high school.

O'Hara argued that high schools are not preparing students for college. She said if schools were held more accountable, they wouldn't allow seniors to "slide by" and their diplomas would have value.

"Money motivates people," O'Hara said.

Committee members agreed that more can be done to prepare students for college, including aligning curriculum better with what is taught in college, fostering collaboration between colleges and high schools, and changing minimum admissions requirements.

"This is a problem that is more complex" than what the bill proposes, said Valdenia Winn, D-Kansas City. "I don't think you're getting to the issue you want to get to."

Arguments from opponents of the bill pointed out that more than half of those taking remedial courses at Kansas colleges are from out of state, and the bill has no provision for charging them. They also argued that not all colleges have the same standards for requiring remedial courses.

Nontraditional students and special-needs students are not dealt with in the bill.