Options already exist for credit-deficient students

Ever wonder why, if you happen to be driving by a local high school before lunchtime, you might see dozens of teenagers leaving campus early?

It's because their school day is over. For many seniors who have passed all their coursework over the years, there's no reason to spend all day in class. They take the few subjects they need to graduate and head home, or to a job, rather than stick around and fill seats for credits they don't need.

On the other hand, plenty of high school seniors are enrolled in a full schedule because they need every credit they can muster. They have flunked at least a couple of classes over their first three years and won't accrue the 22½ credits they need to graduate if they don't get passing grades across the board. Some make it to commencement by the tightest of margins.

Because typical high school students take six classes a year (worth a half-credit each semester), their schedules provide built-in opportunities to make up for multiple failures. One grade of F does not put a kid out on the street.

That's what makes Assembly Bill 138 such a puzzler. The legislation, which got a hearing Monday before the Education Committee, requires school districts to give flunking students even more chances to obtain credits needed for graduation. The bill says schools must offer "sufficient opportunities" during the school day for these kids.

One and a half credits of wiggle room isn't "sufficient" enough? To say nothing of summer school and virtual education opportunities?

"If you are a couple of credits short, you are already taking a full load," Joyce Haldeman, associate superintendent of the Clark County School District, said to the committee.

"Student willingness has to be part of the equation. We cannot force-feed credit opportunities."

To say nothing of the cost to the state such a mandate would impose. Gov. Brian Sandoval has proposed spending reductions of roughly 9 percent for Nevada's K-12 system. Adding more class time before and after regular school hours would add costs, not subtract them.

AB138 also requires schools to set up the means for students to anonymously report "unlawful activity." Although serious crimes do occur on school campuses, this is an invitation for frivolous, vindictive snitching. What does a tipster provision have to do with classes for credit-deficient students, anyway?

AB138 is a waste of the Legislature's time.