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Early college initiative critical

As teachers in classrooms in Albuquerque Public Schools, we are enthusiastic about working with University of New Mexico faculty to transition students to college life and studies while they are still in our hands as high school students.

Those of us currently working with UNM faculty and students want to share with others how important these relationships are for our students and their families. We are challenged because of the growing pressures for time and accountability in K-12. That is why the proposed bill HB 259 titled Early College High School Initiative is so critical now.

Our first-generation public high schools students face greater obstacles applying to and succeeding in colleges and universities across the state. Our students tell us that bridging college and high school teaching and learning is truly life changing. They tell us that first-generation college students need transformational educational experiences that turn their lives around. These are the comments they shared with us in our classrooms:

• “Taking [this] course as a dual-enrollment college credit course at my high school assisted my transferring to UNM by helping me advance more in my desired career and also to suggest this class to peers who were still in Atrisco Heritage Academy or peers now in college.”

– UNM first-year student

• “I had not even started to prepare for college. I hadn’t even taken my SAT/ACT. This class forced me to get involved, to start thinking about the process. It also makes this class more important. I like the assumption that people of all races should be preparing for college, and Ethnic Studies encourages that positive focus.”

– APS senior

• “Allowing the course in my high school facilitates my educational life because I did not have to drive all the way out to UNM to receive credit for this course. It allowed the opportunity to be taken by a lot more students who would be losing work days for a class outside of the school hours. It allows me to prepare for a college course.”

– APS senior

• “The benefits of taking the Chicana and Chicano Studies class are being involved with the community such as school and other individuals, also helping those in need. Another benefit is opening up to my fellow students that I wouldn’t tell anyone else. We talk about everything going on with ourselves and the world.”

– APS senior

These are just a small sampling of the reactions and takeaways that our students have, thanks to this invaluable partnership. New Mexico is a different place for learning – for many of us and our students, we have to learn about who we are and where we are from before we can continue successfully on our academic journey.

The funding being requested by HB 259 will allow for generations of New Mexicans to have an appreciation for higher education at a much earlier age, thus lending greater possibility to the success of individual students but also their entire families. They will have a step up and be better prepared for higher education. We urge the New Mexico state Legislature to invest in our students, our children, our communities and our future.

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

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