Diploma requirement

Standards in education are good, for educators, students and taxpayers. Without standards, how can we judge achievement?

Next week, the presidents of Nevada’s community colleges will ask the state regents to impose a minimal standard on those who seek to enroll on their campuses. The requirement? That they have high school diploma or the equivalent.

This does not seem too much to ask.

First, notifying prospective students that if they hope to continue their education after 12th grade they will be expected to fulfill the minimum requirements for a high school diploma does not seem onerous. It’s only common sense. If you seek to move from one level to the next, you must show you are capable of meeting certain standards. Otherwise, you will be set up to fail.

Second, the change makes eminent sense from a financial point of view. Nevada, like almost every other state, has struggled fiscally in the Obama economy. The community college system has the capacity to handle only so many students. Focusing primarily on those who seek to attain a degree or move on to a four-year institution would ease the financial burden on these institutions.

The Community College of Southern Nevada, the largest in the system, has 44,000 students. Its graduation rate is 9 percent. What exactly are we getting in return for its funding?

Patrick Callan, president of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said the diploma requirement could hurt the poorest segment of society. But that implies the impoverished among us are incapable of meeting certain minimal challenges — and ignores the many existing programs in place to provide “continuing education” opportunities for adults or to help dropouts earn the equivalent of a high school diploma.

The regents should, without hesitation, approve this proposal. It’s long overdue and sends the proper message.

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