Wisconsin Helps Support Dual Credit Program

May 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 13-4: The Many Faces of Leadership, Tribal College News

High school students on the Menominee Nation Reservation have an opportunity to kick start their college education and their careers thanks to a dual credit program at the College of the Menominee Nation (CMN). The state of Wisconsin provides $300,000 a year to support the program.

High school students can choose from several different programs. If, for example, a student wants to be a teacher, he or she can enroll in an early childhood education class at the tribal college and also work in a classroom or daycare center. Using the state funds, the tribal college pays for the tuition, books, and a stipend. The students get both high school and college credit as well as experiences that help them determine their career paths. For the tribal college, it has been an excellent recruitment tool, bringing younger students into the college, including a greater percentage of male students. Parents like the program. Students recognize it as a privilege they don’t want to lose, according to College of Menominee President Verna Fowler. There are practically no behavior problems: The high school students take classes with students who are sometimes much older, she said.

Three years ago, then Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson told the 11 gaming tribes in the state that the state would not renew their gaming compacts unless they agreed to provide a greater percentage of their revenue to the state. Thompson said the casino revenue would be used to develop services in the areas impacted by the casinos. Fowler recognized the opportunity. Working closely with the tribe’s lobbyist, they promoted legislation for directing some of the casino revenue into a youth apprenticeship program. At the time, Thompson was recognized nationally for his welfare reform ideas, including a school to work program.

Fowler’s tribal college designed a program that satisfied the governor’s priorities but that was oriented more toward career than vocational training. Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Community College (the other tribal college in Wisconsin) also has a dual credit program funded by state-tribal casino revenue.

Fowler credits the efforts of the Menominee Tribe as well as the strong relationships she enjoys with state lawmakers. Fowler regularly invites legislators to visit the college to speak and to participate in forums. The college sponsors election forums for all the federal, state, local, and tribal elections and broadcasts the forums over the Internet.

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