Missouri Senate committee approves bill to expand college core curriculum

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(Missouri Independent) – Legislation that could expand the number of college credits universally transferable between Missouri’s public two-year and four-year institutions took another step towards becoming law on Tuesday as time runs short before lawmakers adjourn for the year.

A Senate committee, in its last scheduled meeting of the legislative session, debated and passed a bill Tuesday morning that seeks to create a 60-credit-hour core curriculum in concert with Missouri’s higher education institutions. Currently, there is a 42-credit-hour block that transfers between all of Missouri’s public colleges, created in 2018.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Cameron Parker of Campbell, passed the House unanimously earlier this month. 

“This will eliminate some problems for students transferring from a two-year to a four-year. It reduces the cost,” Parker told the committee. “What we’re looking at is a seamless transition from a two-year to a four-year.”

Parker’s bill calls for the coordinating board for higher education to craft the 60-hour block for “at least five-degree programs with substantial enrollment.”

Paul Wagner, executive director of the Council on Public Higher Education in Missouri, testified in “soft opposition” because the bill could exclude students outside of popular degree programs.

“This only applies to a certain type of student,” he said. “That is a student that knows from the beginning that they want to major in one of the five degrees that are chosen.”

It is going to be a large undertaking to get each public college to agree on a 60-credit-hour program, he said.

“If we are going to put in that kind of work, we would prefer that there was a broader result,” Wagner said.

State Sen. Lauren Arthur, a Kansas City Democrat who serves on the committee, said Wagner’s comment was “well-taken.”

“I would like to see it more broadly applied,” she said.

She voted in favor of the bill, along with the other nine members in attendance.

Representatives from community colleges said the legislation would solve problems their students face.

Brian Miller, president and CEO of the Missouri Community College Association, testified that there is a “high frequency” of students retaking classes after transferring to a four-year university.

State Fair Community College President Brent Bates said his students have a similar frustration.

“Each year students transfer from State Fair Community College,” he said, “sometimes they are surprised when they transfer to a public university in the state and the classes don’t transfer as they anticipated.” 

To make it to the governor’s desk, the legislation must pass the Senate before the legislative session ends on May 17.

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Annelise Hanshaw


Annelise Hanshaw covers education — a beat she has held on both the East and West Coast prior to joining the Missouri Independent staff. A born-and-raised Missourian, she is proud to be back in her home state.