Listening to Young People can save money

This following column first appeared in a number of APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers during late January and early February, 2021.  This includes the Sun Sailor.

Listening to Young People Can Save Money

While Gov. Tim Walz recently offered many good ideas to improve education, there’s something major missing. Unfortunately, the 22-member team that produced recommendations did not include a single youngster. What’s needed is more listening to and learning from high school and college students like Cole Stevens, Zeke Jackson, Claire Westra, Anaa Jibicho and Lincoln Bacal. Not every idea any of us has is great (that includes me). But some students’ suggestions expand opportunities, won’t cost more and sometimes save money.

Let’s get specific.

Zeke Jackson, from Little Falls, a former Postsecondary Enrollment Options student and now executive director of People for PSEO, and his colleagues have several suggestions to legislators. None will cost more money, yet each will help students prepare for college. PSEO saves students, families and taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Among other things, People for PSEO is asking legislators to:

— Expand eligibility for state funds already allocated to help low-income PSEO students travel to college. The group suggests allowing high schools willing to transport the students to receive this money, as well as the individual students.

— Permit students to register for PSEO courses after the May 31 deadline if their school hasn’t provided state-required information about the program.

Jackson, who’s 20 years old, helped convince legislators to change the PSEO law so that state universities treat high school and college students equitably when it comes to online courses. Previously at least one state university allowed adult students to take as many online courses as they could handle. But the university limited PSEO students to one, reducing options for thousands of students who don’t live near a college or don’t have a car. Legislators listened and made the no-cost change Jackson suggested.

Brook LaFloe, Mn Dept of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, and Zeke Jackson

Another student Anaa Jibicho, a St. Paul district graduate now at Stanford, has recommended allowing “lunch money” to follow students from high schools to college. He’s explained that students from low-income families receive free lunch if they’re in high school, but not if they are taking courses on a campus. That’s under discussion.

Finally, high school student Claire Westra, from Fulda in southwestern Minnesota, helped convince legislators to do something else to help students that doesn’t cost more money. Westra persuaded legislators to increase access and opportunities by requiring that high schools allow students to use school computers to take PSEO courses.

Claire Westra testifying in 2017 Mn House Education with Ms. Kayla Westra (left) and Mn House Chair Rep. Jenifer Loon

Unfortunately, Center for School Change research (which I helped conduct) found  in January 2020 that more than 90% of 98 districts and charters in a random statewide sample weren’t telling students about this. State law requires posting up-to-date information on school websites and in materials given to students.

A fall 2020 review found that while there has been some progress, 75% of the districts and charters still don’t have all the required information on their websites. You can find what Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker has told district and charters is required information here.

Please see the end of the column for a list of 50 different district & charter  PSEO websites.  Here are a few examples.

Eden Prairie High School provides a link to the Minnesota Department of Education website but does not provide much of the required information on its own website, as seen here: t.ly/WF8F. For example, Eden Prairie High School website does not mention that:

— Students can use the school’s computers to take online PSEO courses.

— PSEO students may continue to participate in high school extracurricular activities.

— High schools are required to provide information to 8th-11th grade students and their families by March 1 or three weeks before they register, whichever comes first.

— Transportation funds are available for students from low-income families to travel to colleges and universities.

Hopkins Public Schools provides up-to-date information at hopkinsschools.org/academics/college-credit-options.

Minnetonka Public Schools provides up-to-date information at minnetonkaschools.org/academics/mhs/skipper-log/pseo.

Eagle Ridge Academy provides much of but not all the required information at eagleridgeacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/PSEO-Guidelines-2017.pdf. The school also provides a link to the MDE website that has all required information.

St. Louis Park High School provides up-to-date information at slpschools.org/PSEO.

Young people offer important insights into what is and isn’t working. I agree with Youthprise, a statewide organization, They’ve urged local, regional and statewide groups to include young people and to seek their suggestions. Of course, they won’t always agree, and their ideas aren’t always practical. But youth have been, and can be, sources of powerful, cost-effective solutions for important problems.

Joe Nathan directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome at Joe@centerforschoolchange.org or JoeNathan9249 on Twitter.

 

Review of 50 PSEO Websites carried out last week of January, 2021 by CSC

 

42 district & charter websites and 8 high school websites reviewed in

late January, early Feb, 2021

  • Of the 42 district and charter websites, 20 had all required information, 22 did not
  • Of the 8 individual district schools, none provided all the required information.
  • Several websites had incorrect information (most often, that 10th graders could take only 1 course)
  • Several districts were contacted and given 4 days to provide required information. Some did, some did not do so.

 

Anoka-Hennepin Schools

https://www.ahschools.us/Page/19332

District 11’s website provides some but not all required information. Some information is incorrect.

District spokesperson Jim Skelly told me: “We are going through a website update and we are currently updating pages.”

Coon Rapids HS has some but not all required information

https://www.ahschools.us/cms/lib/MN01909485/Centricity/Domain/7104/PSEOBrochureInfo.pdf

 

Northwest Passage High School in Coon Rapids provides up-to-date information:
https://nwphs.org/current-students/pseo/.

 

Pact Charter School provides up to date information

https://pact.charter.k12.mn.us/index.php/academics/secondary/post-secondary-enrollment-options-pseo

 

 

Bloomington Public Schools   – googling for district PSEO leads to Kennedy High school website which does not provide some of the required information.

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vSn4NgLc7T7Ru1Vwk4voFrPg6XfT2vHR0S4RPvAIyZVm_VGjm75Vvfgwm-CpB4-sRZgG3SLxbgBF0eH/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.p24

The Kennedy High School 2021-22 registration booklet provides much but not all required information. For example, it does not mention that students can use their school’s computers to take PSEO courses or that transportation funds are available to help low-income students with transportation costs:

t.ly/GuQT.

 

The District 191 Burnsville Public Schools 2021-22 registration guide provides some of the required information about PSEO and suggests that those interested go to the Minnesota Department of Education website. The PSEO page omits a number of important features of PSEO.  The 2021-22 registration guide states PSEO is for 11th and 12th graders.

https://sites.google.com/a/isd191.org/pseo/

 

 

Caledonia Area Public Schools provides information that includes some but not all the required information here: https://www.cps.k12.mn.us/page/2799. For example, the district’s website does not mention that:

— PSEO students may continue to participate in high school extracurricular activities.

— High schools are required to provide information to 8th-11th grade students and their families by March 1 or three weeks before they register, whichever comes first.

 

Cambridge-Isanti Schools provides a mixture of accurate and not accurate information on its website. Superintendent Nate Rudolph wrote, in part: “Our high school registration occurs on March 1 and all information about PSEO will be reviewed to ensure it is up to date and in the new course guide for students by February 8. Our website is in the process of being redesigned so that all information is searchable. Unfortunately, our website crashed at the end of 2019-2020, and we are continuing to update our pages in the new format.”

On the district’s website, at t.ly/pQVY, PSEO information says, “Juniors must rank in the top third of their class; seniors must rank in the top half of their class.” This is not true for all colleges and universities. Also the website states, “Transportation must be provided by the student.” Several paragraphs later the website points out that funds are available to help pay for transportation for students from low-income families.

 

Duluth Public Schools provides some but not all required information on its website:

https://www.isd709.org/academics/earn-college-credit

Denfield provides all the required information on its website but it is geared to 11th graders

https://www.isd709.org/denfeld/guidance/11th-grade

 

 

Eden Prairie High School provides a link to the Minnesota Department of Education website but does not provide much of the required information on its own website, as seen here: t.ly/WF8F. For example, Eden Prairie High School website does not mention that:

— Students can use the school’s computers to take online PSEO courses.

— PSEO students may continue to participate in high school extracurricular activities.

— High schools are required to provide information to 8th-11th grade students and their families by March 1 or three weeks before they register, whichever comes first.

— Transportation funds are available for students from low-income families to travel to colleges and universities.

 

Edina Public Schools provides up-to-date information here:

https://www.edinaschools.org/Page/2897.

 

 

Elk River Schools (Independent School District 728) provides up-to-date information here: https://www.isd728.org/Page/3709.

 

Spectrum High School provides up-to-date information here: t.ly/wWub.

 

 

The Farmington High School website provides some but not all required information (t.ly/y2cM). It also has an outdated link to the MDE PSEO website.

 

Forest Lake Area High School provides up-to-date information here:

https://www.flaschools.org/Page/1706. However, a comparison between the district’s “Ranger U” and PSEO says PSEO requires travel (https://www.flaschools.org/Page/1864) when actually students can use school computers to take online PSEO from their high schools.

 

Lakes International Language Academy provides some of the required information and a link to an MDE home page. See: https://www.mylila.org/lower-school-k-5/enrichment.

 

North Lakes Academy provides up-to-date information here: https://www.northlakesacademy.org/dual-credit-options.

 

Fridley Public Schools ** provides very little of the required information on two of its websites

https://fhs.fridleyschools.org/academics/college-career-readiness     and   https://fhs.fridleyschools.org/academics/pseo

 

Hopkins Public Schools provides up-to-date information here: https://www.hopkinsschools.org/academics/college-credit-options.

 

Lakeville Public Schools provides most but not all information – missing notification about required date (3 weeks before registration)

file:///Users/joenathan%201/Downloads/PSEO-Info-20.pdf

https://isd194.org/lakeville-north/career-center/post-secondary-enrollment/

 

 

Little Falls Community Schools provides up-to-date information here:

https://www.lfalls.k12.mn.us/high-school/guidance-office/pseo/.

 

Royalton Public Schools provides most but all not all information on its website:

t.ly/LKXb.

 

Swanville Public Schools ** – unable to find information on the district’s website but responded positively    https://www.swanville.k12.mn.us/pseo

 

 

Upsala Area Schools   provides up-to-date information here:

https://sites.google.com/site/mrsglaserswebpage/college-classes

  • – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

 

 

Minneapolis Public Schools provides most but not all required info.  Does not mention student access to computer or internet, does not mention notification dates

https://guidance.mpls.k12.mn.us/post-secondary_enrollment_options_pseo

Southwest High School has a 20 minute video posted here. It states 10th graders can take only 1 PSEO course

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgW1K83-wqI

North High School website does not provide most of the required information

https://north.mpls.k12.mn.us/post-secondary_enrollment_options_pseo

Minnetonka Public Schools ** provides up-to-date information: https://www.minnetonkaschools.org/academics/mhs/skipper-log/pseo.

Eagle Ridge Academy provides much of but not all the required information on its website: https://eagleridgeacademy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/PSEO-Guidelines-2017.pdf.

The school also provides a link to the MDE website that has all required information.

Monticello High School provides up-to-date information on its website: https://www.monticello.k12.mn.us/Page/466.

North Branch Area Public Schools provides up-to-date information on its website: t.ly/CY8s.

Orono Public Schools provides some information but does not provide important details

https://sites.google.com/a/orono.k12.mn.us/oronohsguidance/courses-curriculum/college-preparatory-curriculum/pseo-htc

ISD 279 Osseo Area Schools provides up-to-date information on its website: https://www.district279.org/academics/pseo.

Richfield Public Schools **  This website did not but now has revised its website  to provide required information on its website:

https://rhs.richfieldschools.org/academics/college-credit

Rochester Public Schools – provides all required information except that info must be provided 3 weeks before students register, provides link to MDE website

https://www.rochesterschools.org/academics/student-advancement/pseo

Century high school provides all required information except that info must be provided 3 weeks before students register, provides link to MDE website

https://chs.rochesterschools.org/academics/pseo

District 196 (Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan) provides a little information about PSEO on its website and a link to the Minnesota Department of Education website: https://www.district196.org/academics/earn-college-credit.
Apple Valley High School provides a little information about PSEO on its website and a link to the MDE website

https://www.district196.org/academics/earn-college-credit

St. Louis Park High School provides up-to-date information: https://www.slpschools.org/PSEO.

St Paul Public Schools provides required information here:

https://www.spps.org/domain/11038

Central High School does not provide all required info.  It includes a link

https://www.spps.org/domain/1715

Highland Park High School does provide required information here:

https://www.spps.org/domain/2785

Stillwater Area Public Schools provides up-to-date information: https://sahs.stillwaterschools.org/learning/opportunities.

New Heights School provides up-to-date information on its website: https://www.newheightsschool.com/post-secondary-enrollment-options.

St. Croix Prep provides up-to-date information: https://www.stcroixprep.org/upper-school/college-counseling/.

South St Paul – accurate except that it states students must respond by May 23.

https://www.sspps.org/Page/463

South Washington County * misses much of the required information. For example, the website does not mention the 10th grade PSEO option or that schools must allow students to use district computers to take courses online. Pepe Barton, director of communications and community relations, told me that my “concerns about missing information will be reviewed for consistency across all websites.”

https://www.sowashco.org/departments/teaching_and_learning/career_and_college/p_s_e_o_and_916#:~:text=Post%2DSecondary%20Enrollment%20Options%20(PSEO,college%20credit%20for%20the%20courses.

Voyageurs Charter School, Bemidji does not provide all required information and PSEO is for 11th and 12th graders (It does not mention the 10th grade option.  It provides a link to the MDE website.

https://www.voyageursschool.org/html/academic-options.html

Waconia Public Schools ** provides required information on its website https://www.isd110.org/sites/default/files/files/content/pseo.pdf

 

 

 

  • Has not responded after stating that it would review

** Has responded positively to concerns raised

*** Has responded without agreeing to fix