We hear a lot of talk about the importance of educational achievement and the knee-buckling costs of college. What if you could get kids to complete two years of college by the time they finish high school?
That is happening in New York City. I had breakfast a few weeks ago with Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, to talk about Bard High School Early College, a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that gives highly motivated students the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and a two-year associate of arts degree in the four years that are usually devoted to just high school.
When these kids sail into college, they are fully prepared to handle the course loads of sophomores or juniors. Essentially, the students complete their high school education by the end of the 10th grade and spend the 11th and 12th grades mastering a rigorous two-year college curriculum.
The school, a fascinating collaboration between Bard College and the city’s Department of Education, was founded in 2001 as a way of dealing, at least in part, with the systemic failures of the education system. American kids drop out of high school at a rate of one every 26 seconds. And, as Dr. Botstein noted, completion rates at community colleges have been extremely disappointing.