n his Jan. 26 guest commentary state schools superintendent Chris Reykdal says we should provide College in the High School and Running Start courses to high-school students free of charge because fees for these programs place financial barriers for lower-income families to participate in these programs and further exacerbates opportunity gaps for these students.
I totally agree that we should strive to close these opportunity gaps, but I think that there’s a better and cheaper way to do it. We could subsidize these programs for low-income families by applying the free-and-reduced lunch scale for the fees. Then we would not be using public funds to pay for students from families who could easily afford the fees.
Mr. Reykdal says that it costs families about $60 million for these programs. Roughly half of students are eligible for free-and-reduced lunch, so that limiting the subsidies to these students would cost about $30 million instead of $60 million, freeing up about $30 million for other uses.