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Did you know that in the Racine Unified School District and at many other area schools, students have the chance to earn college credits?

If you didn’t know that, you are not alone.

To better inform parents about options for their children, state Rep. Tom Weatherston, R-Caledonia, has proposed a bill that would require school districts to annually provide written notice to parents about technical education courses for which the students may be eligible.

We’d like to see that taken one step further. The mailing should include information about how much these technical jobs pay and placement rates for different technical fields.

These aren’t the factory jobs from the past. They are high-paying professional careers.

Parents need to be made aware of the options that are out there for their children. Then parents need to sit down with them and talk to them about these options.

Some parents may throw away the material without a second thought. But for every parent who throws it away, hopefully there will be another parent who takes it seriously.

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And parents should, considering how much higher education costs.

About 71 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients graduate with student loan debt; on average, they will have to pay back $35,000, according to an Edvisors analysis. In comparison, in 1993 average bachelor-degree student loan debt was less than $10,000.

Gateway Technical College offers a wide array of options for high school students. Courses include horticulture, payroll accounting, IT programing, welding, refrigerator repair, automotive technology and civil engineering, among others.

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In addition, students can received up to 12 Gateway credits through classes taught at Park High School’s automotive center by a Gateway instructor.

If students exercise their options, they can graduate from high school with college credits, enabling them to graduate earlier and with less student debt.

Racine Unified also collaborates with University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Those options should also be brought to parents’ attention.

While Gateway and Parkside already conduct outreach campaigns, anything more that can be done to keep increase parents’ awareness can only help.

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