House bill would add requirements for high school graduation

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – A bill being heard Thursday at the Roundhouse would add some requirements for students to graduate high school in New Mexico.

However, some have big concerns about the proposed changes.

The bill would require students entering 11th grade to apply to at least one college or show they have committed to other things like a job, internship, apprenticeship or military service.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Nate Gentry (R) and Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D).

Rep. Gentry says the idea for the bill comes from a school district in Texas that made it a requirement for all students to apply to a community or four-year college. He says they saw an 11 percent increase in those who went on to get a higher education.

Rep. Gentry says his proposal is broader in that it allows students to pursue other options besides college.

He says they don’t have to commit to going if they get in, just apply.

“By submitting that application I think its something that’s very encouraging in that it causes people to believe that they can go on and attend college and be a college student,” said Rep. Gentry.

Betty Patterson with the National Education Association in New Mexico says she has big concerns. She says there aren’t enough counselors to guide students through applications and many cost money which some may not be able to afford.

“We have to face the fact that we have some students that don’t really understand anything that’s going to happen in their future because maybe they’re homeless, they may be DACA students, they may have an illness that’s going to prevent them from even planning for much of a future,” Patterson said.

She added, some students could also decide to take a year off after high school to travel or care for family and may not be ready to commit to a college.

A House subcommittee will hear the bill Thursday afternoon.

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