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 Response Page - Nathan  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Joe Nathan Interview of



Joe Nathan, director, Center for School Change, Macalester College, cites advantages of Minnesota's quarter-century of experience with dual enrollment, which allows high school students to enroll in college classes for credit, tuition free. Dual enrollment expands the number of college-bound students, he contends. Perhaps surprisingly, studies reveal that low-income, low-achieving high school students often outperform their peers in college classes. Therefore, he argues, colleges should enroll low-income and low-achieving high school students, not only those who rank high in their classes. He also cautions that some high schools may discourage students from participating in dual enrollment in order to protect the schools’ state funding levels.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary:  Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Nathan. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. Continue dual enrollment. (9.5 average response) Dual enrollment, which allows Minnesota students while still in high school to take college classes for credit, should be continued.

2. Don't charge tuition. (9.0 average response) Dual enrollment should continue to be tuition-free to high school students, which helps them complete college in fewer years and at lower cost.

3. Expand to 9th-12th. (6.0 average response) Dual enrollment should be available to 9th and 10th graders, not only 11th and 12th graders.

4. Disallow roadblocks. (8.4 average response) Although high schools can't prohibit their students from substituting college for high school classes, high schools should avoid indirect efforts--such as restrictions on extra-curricular activities--to discourage certain types of dual enrollment.

5. Open to low-performers. (7.6 average response) Studies show that low-income, low-achieving high school students often do better taking college courses. Therefore, colleges should not restrict dual enrollment to high-performing high school students.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Continue dual enrollment.







2. Don't charge tuition.







3. Expand to 9th-12th.







4. Disallow roadblocks.







5. Open to low-performers.







Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (5)  (5)

4. Disallow roadblocks. Perhaps colleges should have restrictions so that students don't get over their heads with outside activities, which may limit their chance of success in college classes.

5. Open to low-performers. Low achieving high school students should be evaluated before enrolling in college courses to be sure they have the potential to succeed at the college level.  It should also be determined why students who take tech school courses do not do as well.

Scott Halstead  (10)  (10)  (2.5)  (10)  (5)

2. Don't charge tuition. High schools that allow college courses on the high school campuses should receive a portion of the funding.

5. Open to low-performers. I would want to ensure that any student is successful before continuing college courses.

Amanda Giliotti  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)  (0)

1. Continue dual enrollment. Sounds like a good plan but I support it being limited to only those students who are top in their class.

2. Don't charge tuition. Yes, it should act to reward those who work hard on academics in high school.

3. Expand to 9th-12th. I think 9th and 10th graders should get to enjoy high school for what it is and not feel pressured to jump into college just because their peers are doing so.  High school has lots of fun times. Allow kids to mature into the adults they will become.  Why rush that emotional education?

5. Open to low-performers. Nope, I disagree.  I really wouldn't have appreciated getting into college after busting my butt in high school and then finding out I'm in class with a bunch of low performing high school kids.  I would drop out of the class so fast.  College is for students that care about education. Use another forum to educate the low achieving high school kids.

Dave Broden  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)

1. Continue dual enrollment. Dual enrollment is definitely a strong element of education choice for the student to seek learning that benefits his evolving education and life experience. Dual enrollment provides the student unique opportunities for learning and for experiencing the transition to post secondary level and beyond. This also allows the student to find academic classes that are not or may not be available in the high school he attends.

2. Don't charge tuition. Dual enrollment as a tuition free element must continue, but perhaps there can be some criteria for the number or type of class where the student may pay a 'Special Fee' such as for expensive lab related courses or other courses for which the college class may have unique costs. The cost should in some way be a negotiated amount perhaps with some type of means test so that students are not excluded for any reason.

3. Expand to 9th-12th. I strongly support consideration of 9th and 10th grade as well as 11 and 12. As this is considered there should be some sort of criteria outlined that is simple and realistic to determine if the course is appropriate for the student in 9 or 10 or the student should wait for 11 or 12. This should not be a complex decision process but a process of value.

4. Disallow roadblocks. Dual enrollment must not carry an image of limiting normal high school activity. Rather the high school if focused on education should be seeking to ensure that each student has the package of classes that best fits his capability and interest and that includes full access to extra-curricular activity. Seems to me that if things are restricted, then that is really discrimination.

5. Open to low-performers. Agree that just as college entrance is open so should individual classes for high schools students regardless of income or achievement. The education environment is a much an element of performance in the classroom as is the other activity. No discrimination, please.

Chris Brazelton  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)

5. Open to low-performers. Won't we be better off as a society if more of our citizens are better educated?  Increasing costs of tuition are making college off limits for people with limited means. This program makes college possible for those who might otherwise join the ranks of the low-wage workers we already have a surplus of.

Don Anderson  (10)  (7.5)  (2.5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)  (5)

1. Continue dual enrollment. One of the problems in American education is that the curricula are too watered down, the kids are not challenged enough. Is this program in lieu of or in addition to advanced placement classes? Is this for academic track courses, or for trade track, or both? The notion that everybody has to go to college in order to qualify for a better job is due mainly to the fact that in some stated such as California the old traditional auto- wood- and metal-shop, as well as basic business and commercial courses, have been eliminated and pushed up to the community colleges. Everybody is not intelligent or motivated enough to do serious academic work or psychologically predisposed for an intellectual profession.

2. Don't charge tuition. Somebody always has to pay; who is it this time?

3. Expand to 9th-12th. Well, here may be a few precocious 9th graders in the general high school population, but would kids like that waste their time in public school?

4. Disallow roadblocks. Why on earth would any school put restrictions on this kind of a program? Why does any school even care about your activities when you are not in class? Some kids may want to or have to work; some may do volunteer work; others may be taking all sort of extra classes -- music, art, sports, etc.

5. Open to low-performers. This is a crock. The problem is not "low income" or "low achievement." Those are not valid distinctions. The real discriminating factors are culture (low class, redneck, proletarian, anti-intellectual, etc.) and motivation (bored, disinterested, rebellious, self-destructive, etc.). Poor kids can still be very intelligent, and very intelligent kids can be bored out of their skull with the dummied down curriculum and totally lose interest, thereby appearing to be low achieving. The problem is the rigidly egalitarian culture in the education establishment that stifles excellence for fear that the gifted few will zip past the lazy or stupid majority.

Jodi Summit  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7.5)

1. Continue dual enrollment. This is a great program, especially for students in rural, out-state areas or at smaller high schools without the option of advanced academic coursework.

3. Expand to 9th-12th. My son took dual enrollment classes offered in our high school building as a 10th grader. Our small rural high school did not offer any Honors or AP classes, so this was his only option for advanced work. He loved these classes and did top-of-his-class work, but he didn't receive any college credit because he was only in 10th grade.

5. Open to low-performers. I feel the first college class experience should be a positive one. If a student is truly not prepared for the workload and content of the class, you are setting them up for failure. Perhaps there can be an alternative path to qualifying for these classes. In our district, students have to hit a certain grade on the Accuplacer test to qualify, but the school counselor can grant access on a case-by-case basis if a student hasn't hit the proper benchmark and still wants to take the class.

Becky Meyer  (10)  (10)  (0)  (10)  (7.5)

3. Expand to 9th-12th. Most often, 9th and 10th grade students have not had the prerequisites that are needed to be successful in dual enrollment type classes. If 9th and 10th are included, schools MUST be able to set criteria for inclusion of those students.

5. Open to low-performers. There must be some ability of the school to recommend or restrict students. Often the high school is aware of circumstances that led to the low performance, but would still allow the student to take the dual enrollment courses.

D.T. King  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Joe, thanks for your leadership on this issue. Four years of high school spent entirely in high school is a waste of time and achievement for many kids.

Wade Young  (10)  (10)  (10)  (5)  (3)

Chuck Slocum  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)

2. Don't charge tuition.   Certainly for qualified, low income, means tested students.

3. Expand to 9th-12th. The concept of open enrollment should be allowed to go further based on reasonable college acceptance standards.
 5. Open to low-performers. All students in PSEO’s should have achieved sufficiently enough to complete college work.
Post Secondary Enrollment Options, the 1985 law that offered 11th and 12th grade Minnesota high school students an opportunity to attend college and earn credits at each institution, was a brainchild of Connie Levi, the House Majority Leader from Dellwood.  Governor Perpich and the Minnesota Business Partnership, lead by 3M CEO Lew Lehr’s “Educating Students for the 21st Century” report,  strongly backed this and other reform initiatives, along with the companion legislation offered by Austin State Senator Tom Nelson, who was Roger Moe’s Majority Whip at the time. 

Robert J. Brown  (10)  (10)  (6)  (10)  (6)

Ray Cox  (10)  (10)  (0)  (5)  (10)

We need to watch the total impact on costs at the colleges if large numbers of high school students enroll in college classes.  I also think we need to address overall high school preparation so that our colleges do not have to offer remedial courses to enrolling students.

Chuck Lutz  (10)  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)

Jerry Fruin  (10)  (10)  (5)  (9)  (8)

Arvonne Fraser  (10)  (10)  (7)  (10)  (10)

Bert Press  (10)  (10)  (5)  (5)  (10)

Alan Miller  (9)  (9)  (3)  (5)  (4)

Dane Smith  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Joe should be saluted for pushing this policy that puts many more young people in the post-secondary attainment track as early as possible.   Successful, highly educated upper-income families in many ways have their kids on this track before kindergarten and all Minnesota’s children, especially the disadvantaged, need to be steered as early as possible toward this advantage.

Malcolm McDonald  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

By all means we should encourage, encourage, encourage.

Al Quie  (10)  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)

Nathan's testimony proves how important it is to do research on outcomes. Our natural way of thinking is that only high achieving students could benefit. My reason for an 8 on number 3 is that we ought to extend the program to 10th graders and test it for 9th graders.

Wayne Jennings  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

PSEO is an excellent alternative saving money and advancing student preparation for life. It’s a proud achievement for MN.

Carolyn Ring  (8)  (4)  (4)  (8)  (na)

DeWayne Townsend  (10)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (8)

I find number 5 (Open to low-performers) to be contrary to my experience, so I would like to see the studies that are referenced here.

Clarence Shallbetter  (9)  (7)  (6)  (na)  (na)

Tom Swain  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (2)

Rick Bishop  (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (10)

Item number 5 (Open to low-performers) is for certain as in my work with special students and alternative programs, I have seen these university offerings and programs to be both motivating and providing success for my enrolled students.

Paul and Ruth Hauge  (9)  (7)  (7)  (8)  (8)


The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   Verne C. Johnson, chair;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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