By Artur Agaronyan
Senate Bill 740 promises to ultimately increase college completion rates in Maryland, make graduates more competitive in a global business environment, and make Maryland more attractive for business as the United States economy transitions to a new workforce.
Known as the College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013, Bill 740 enacts changes in Maryland’s educational system.
“Maryland is the first state to say, we’ve got to stop having these things happen in bits and pieces. We’ve got to stop it.” said Bernie Sadusky, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, a non-profit organization that supports the bill.
“Business goes where the labor is,” Sadusky said. There are 108,000 unfilled jobs in the state, 18,000 of those in cybersecurity, he said. Without a highly educated workforce, businesses will start to leave the third most educated state in the U.S., Sadusky said.
Among other changes, students enrolled in a public high school as well as a public college will be charged reduced tuition, the bill outlined.
Community Colleges will charge 75% of tuition for most students, Sadusky said. The local Board of Education can charge students 90% of that cost, he said. Students taking 5 or more courses will be charged 90% of tuition by colleges, he said.
Tuition agreements developed prior to July 1 2013 remain active if they cost less than the new arrangements, the act explained.
Students will be assessed by the Accuplacer in their junior year of high school to determine college readiness, Sadusky said. If the test indicates a student isn’t ready for college-level work, he or she will take a “transition course” in mathematics, English or both to prepare him or her for college. “You might not even go a whole semester, because we get a profile of where your skills are,” Sadusky said.
Transition courses can be done online, Sadusky said. “What do we hear from a lot of students? I think I want to be in the classroom where the teacher is,” he said.
“Learning is about the mind process, about acquisition of knowledge,” Sadusky said.
MC Academic Affairs works very closely with businesses, and especially the University of Maryland because most students who transfer from MC go to College Park, said Margaret Latimer, acting vice president and provost.
Professors from College Park will likely teach a few courses here while some MC professors will teach there in future semesters, Latimer said. “So there really is seamless transfer. You’re not that kid sitting at College Park in the fall saying ‘well, I don’t know that because I went to a community college.’ We don’t want that to happen,” she said.
The bill doesn’t give students a “point A to point B” approach for their careers, said Linda Youngentob, adjunct professor of business at Montgomery College. She sees students often have difficulty devising “clear pathways” to their goals, Youngentob said.
What Youngentob doesn’t understand is “how we as a country have let that happen,” she said. Youngentob had her family’s experience to assist with choosing her pathway that led to her Harvard MBA. Not everyone has that benefit, she said.
“The world changes. It’s going to change next year and it’s going to change 25 years from now,” Sadusky said. “You could graduate from one of the high schools in Baltimore County, go to work in Bethlehem steel, make a great middle class living. Job’s not there anymore.” he said.
Senate Bill 740 is available to read on The General Assembly of Maryland’s website.