Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Butler Sponsoring Bills To Expand Secondary Options

State Representative Ed Butler has sponsored a pair of bills focused on providing more flexible post-secondary education options for Upper Cumberland students.

Butler said one bill will allow students to use the Tennessee Promise in summer semesters, allowing graduated seniors to use the scholarship immediately after high school. He said many students are motivated to pursue their degree right away, but cannot afford to do so without their scholarship money available.

“We want Tennessee to be leading the nation,” Butler said. “And so for us to lead the nation, we’ve got to have our young people graduating high school, and not everybody’s meant to go to a four-year college. Not everybody may be meant to go to a TCAT or a community college, but I think those opportunities need to be available there to let them decide what’s best for them.”

Butler said a second bill moves dual enrollment students to the top of TCAT waiting lists. He said these bills go hand-in-hand. When students cannot continue their certification right away because of finances or lack of available seats, they often do not finish their degree.

“We have invested, as taxpayers, money in these dual enrolled students in many cases because they are using the Tennessee Promise which is part of the lottery scholarship which was established a number of years ago,” Butler said. “So I think we’re being good stewards with our money and we’re also equipping our students to be successful.”

He said there are thousands of TCAT students who come from dual enrollment at Upper Cumberland high schools, making it hard for all of them to get a seat. He said it only makes sense to give students already in the process of reaching certification in a dual enrollment program the best possible opportunity to finish that.

“I’ve seen a need at the TCAT where we’ve had students who are dual enrolled, they graduate high school, and whether they do it through the summer or do it through the fall, they wouldn’t return in the fall because there were no available seats,” Butler said. “And then life gets ahold of them and they go in a different direction and they never finish that certification or that degree. So those are technically wasted resources.”

Butler said both bills have passed on the house floor and will go into effect this year.

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