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An alternative to the Advanced Placement program is gaining popularity in North Carolina among college-bound students.Dual enrollment allows high school students to take college-level classes at a local community college or university. It is often described as a non-standardized alternative to the AP program.However, the rigor of these classes varies widely, and therefore, many four-year universities are hesitant to give equal weight to AP and dual enrollment credit.Some students participate in dual enrollment programs because their high school lacks AP courses, and some participate because they want to go beyond what the AP program offers. The number of dual-enrolled students in North Carolina has almost doubled in six years — from 5,030 in 2001 to 9,236 in 2007, said Megen Hoenk, director of marketing and external affairs for N.C. Community Colleges.The number has continued to rise, she said, and there are now dual enrollment opportunities at all 58 community colleges in North Carolina.Many universities are hesitant to accept dual enrollment courses for credit because there is no standardized final exam, such as the AP exam, that proves students have met university benchmarks for academic rigor.“Our philosophy is that if AP is available, we would prefer students to take the AP courses,” said Dave Meredith, senior assistant director of the UNC Office of Undergraduate Admissions.“You know the fluff courses. They’re college courses but not the rigorous academic kind.”The concern is that students are choosing dual enrollment over AP because there is no standardized exam to pass in order to get credit, Meredith said.But the most important factor for admission is that a student maximizes whatever resources are available, he said, meaning that if dual enrollment is the only option beyond high school classes, it’s still a plus.“We don’t have a blanket approach,” he said.The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, accredited in 2004, oversees dual enrollment programs nationwide in order to try and standardize the program, said Executive Secretary Adam Lowe.“We’re concerned about maintaining quality in the program and ensuring that credits would transfer to a wide range of institutions,” he said.For Adam Kennedy, a May 2009 UNC graduate, dual enrollment exposed him to opportunities his small Raleigh private school couldn’t offer.“It really gave me good insight into what college was like,” Kennedy said. “AP courses gear specifically toward the exam, which is good and intensive, but very narrow-minded.”For home-schooled students, dual enrollment is sometimes the better option when compared to AP.“Dual enrollment was logistically easier because it was free and I didn’t have to teach myself the material for one big-deal test,” said sophomore Stephen Menesick, who was home-schooled for high school.“Although they were probably some of the easiest classes I’ve ever taken, I remember the professors at the community college as being some of the best.”Menesick was able to transfer more than a semester’s worth of college credits when he came to UNC, something he said was not possible at many of the other colleges he considered.Others have used dual enrollment as a way to branch out beyond the AP program.Yakov Shlapentokh-Rothman, a senior at Stanford University who graduated from J.H. Rose High School in Greenville, finished AP Calculus BC his junior year but wanted to continue taking math.He began meeting with a college professor at his house once a week to study multivariable calculus and took many other AP classes.“Comparing the independent study with the AP classes I took is a little hard since they are such different creatures,” he said.“It’s kind of like comparing apples and oranges.”Contact the State & National Editor at email@example.com.
Two smoking-ban violations have been reported so far in Orange County, but most businesses in the area say the ban has had little impact on sales.The state legislature passed a law in May that banned smoking inside bars and restaurants. The law went into effect Jan. 2.Since then, the N.C. Division of Public Health has reported 369 violations from across 24,000 N.C. bars and restaurants. More than half of the counties in the state have had no violations.Guilford County was reported to have 74 violations — the highest in the state by far. Wake and Mecklenburg Counties, which contain Raleigh and Charlotte, respectively, also had relatively high numbers.The numbers are based on complaints made to the department, said Sally Herndon Malek, head of the N.C. Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch. The three most common causes of the complaints have been visible ashtrays, failure to display the required non-smoking sign and failure by staff to stop indoor smoking, Herndon Malek said.The number of violations in Orange County have not been as high because many restaurants and bars had banned smoking prior to the implementation of the law, local bar owners said.“Not a whole lot has changed for us. We’re still running smoothly and happily,” said Griffin Kennedy, manager of Top of the Hill, which had already prohibited smoking indoors.Despite the high number of violations in some areas, the department does not foresee a decline in restaurant business because of the ban, Herndon Malek said.“Other states have done this before North Carolina, and some have seen an increase, and some have seen no negative impact,” she said.The impact of the ban is not yet apparent because January is typically a slow month for restaurant business, Herndon Malek said.The Raleigh Times Bar has yet to see a decline in business, although the bar previously had a smoking section, bartender Matt Holmes said.The ban might even be good for business, he said.“Before the ban, customers would leave if there was no space in the smoking section, but now the restaurant is full in all sections,” Holmes said. “So far, no violations. Everyone’s taking it outside.”Some smokers in the area said the ban does not significantly affect their going-out experience.“I kind of appreciate it because the inside of the bar is clearer and more dynamic,” said Carrboro resident Chip Bowman, who smokes.“It’s probably for the better — better for business. Of course, it sucks to have to go outside,” he said.Contact the State & National Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the start of a new decade, the U.S. Census Bureau is required by law to deliver population information to President Barack Obama by the end of the year.
Harvard University is introducing a new program to teach future leaders how to best tackle the issues facing K-12 education.The tuition-free program, Doctor of Education Leadership, will be Harvard Graduate School of Education’s first new degree program in 74 years. The three-year program is expected to start in August with an initial 25 students.“It’s a new degree designed to prepare system leaders for roles across the sector,” said Elizabeth City, executive director of the program.The program focuses on training students in the history, politics and organization of education, preparing graduates to be leaders who address education disparities through school systems, businesses and non-profits, she said.The program is made tuition-free to attract the most diverse applicant pool possible, City said. The program also covers the students’ living expenses.According to a press release, the program will be funded in part through a $10-million grant by The Wallace Foundation, an organization that advocates strengthening education leadership.The program is partnering with existing organizations such as Teach For America to build on the work that has already been done to improve the education system, City said.The Teach For America model enlists recent college graduates to teach in low-income communities, Teach For America founder and CEO Wendy Kopp wrote in an e-mail.Third-year students in the Harvard program might be interning with Teach For America, Kopp said.Hundreds of UNC students have participated in the Teach For America program. The Harvard program aims to recruit such students. Erin Marubashi, Campus Y co-president and Teach For America applicant, expressed interest in applying for the Harvard program in the future.“I think there are a lot of students coming out of Teach For America who know education is for them,” Marubashi said.“To have a degree that matches that kind of specific area, I think it’s fantastic.”While applicants only need a bachelor’s degree to be considered for the program, the university will give those with years of work experience preference over recent college graduates, City said.“There is no particular profile, just someone interested in education and has leadership experience with intellectually vigorous entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.“This program is really pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.” Contact the State and National Editor at email@example.com.