Education bill passes despite fears of socialism

SB100, Higher Education Scholarship Amendments, sponsored by Senator Jerry W. Stevenson, passed the House this week. Here are three things this bill will amend:

  1. This bill will allow the Board of Regents to weight grades earned in the International Baccalaureate program’s courses when selecting the recipients for the Board of Regents Scholarship.
  2. This bill raises the bar on requirements for recipients of the Board of Regents, New Century and Exemplary Academic Achievement scholarships. The scholars are required to maintain a 3.3 GPA instead of 3.0 GPA. Also, they are asked to register for 15 credit hours per semester rather than 12 credit hours.
  3. The student applying for the scholarship has to verify citizenship status. The penalty of perjury is incurred if a person lies.

When I first read the bill, I misunderstood thinking that students with the privilege of being part of the IB program were more likely to be favored in scholarship consideration. Fortunately, Sen. Stevenson made it clear that IB grades would be weighted the same way they weigh the grades for Concurrent or Advanced Placement classes. Thus, students will hopefully be more willing to take advantage of the IB program instead of taking general/easy classes to maintain their 4.0 GPA.

There are some concerns about the new GPA standard, i.e. 3.3 instead of 3.0. Though that may sound intimidating, it should be noted that the current average GPA of the scholarship recipients is 3.6. This new standard is not likely to hurt anyone. The other concern is regarding the new requirement of 15 credit hours. Again, it is found that past students of these scholarships took more than 15 credit hours, so this change is not likely to hurt future scholars. However, some circumstantial events like accidents or death of a family member could make the additional three credits burdensome.

The International Baccalaureate program is highly controversial in Utah as it bears resemblance to the United Nations. The IB program is perceived as socialist and communist, thus contradicting Utah values. On the floor, everyone who opposed the bill opposed it due to this type of perception of the IB program.

In the wave of opinions regarding the IB program, other views have been disregarded. Some concerned citizens suggest this bill is a “completion bill.” This bill is pushing to encourage students who are already likely to graduate. While this bill is rewarding those who are already aware of the college track, it is not increasing accessibility of college to those who are in need of assistance to pursue college, thus avoiding the real issue.

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