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Editor’s note: Today’s guest editorials originally appeared in The Seattle Times and The Daily Astorian. Editorial content from other publications and authors is provided to give readers a sampling of regional and national opinion and does not necessarily reflect positions endorsed by the Editorial Board of The Daily News.

These days, most good entry-level jobs require some kind of postsecondary credential. A smart investment is helping high school students earn college credit for qualifying coursework, giving them a head start on achieving their goals.

But even though dual-credit enrollment has skyrocketed in recent years, cash-strapped and rural districts still are challenged to offer dual-credit options. Financial barriers persist for low-income students, despite state subsidies and some local assistance. State lawmakers should target these inequities to maximize this time- and money-saving option without creating an unfunded mandate that would stick local districts with the tab.

Besides the obvious benefits, there are many reasons to support a robust statewide system of dual enrollment options as a component of basic education. Studies show that students who enroll in dual-credit courses are more likely to graduate high school and more likely to pursue and attain advanced degrees.

A 2017 Columbia University Teachers College analysis of students enrolled in dual-enrollment courses in fall 2010 showed that 64% of Washington’s dual-enrollment students had enrolled in community college by age 20; another 25% had enrolled in a four-year program. More than half the state’s former dual enrollment students who enrolled in community college after high school earned a college degree or certificate within five years.

Low-income students and students of color can especially benefit from the cost savings and mentoring aspects of dual enrollment. According to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, 73,349 low-income students took a dual credit course during the 2017-18 school year. Since 2012, state appropriations have subsidized dual credit test fees for many low-income students — including 9,208 students’ fees last year — but there is no permanent funding. Education advocates say the funds have reached only a fraction of the students who would benefit.

Last session, legislators directed the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to study ways to maximize student access and enrollment in dual-credit programs. OSPI’s recommendations include phasing in full funding of dual-credit costs for students and their families, and helping districts secure sufficient resources. The office expects a bill to be filed this month that would make dual-credit coursework free for every Washington student by 2023.

Although the details remain to be seen, the idea is worthy in principle. Lawmakers should find ways to ensure more students have access to these opportunities.

Farmers right to be skeptical

The results of a study of stakeholder attitudes regarding the proposed breaching of Snake River dams were hardly surprising, but agricultural interests say the document may serve to educate proponents of the complexities the issue presents.

We can only hope so.

The study was recommended by a task force on reviving the orca population in Puget Sound. Scientists blame a declining orca population on a lack of Chinook salmon for the killer whales to eat.

All Snake River salmon runs are federally threatened or endangered species. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature supported the $750,000 study to catalog different perspectives on breaching the dams as a way to increase fish runs.

The preliminary study represents the views of farmers, tribes, environmentalists, fishermen, shippers and government officials.

Breaching the dams would make it impossible to ship grain down the Snake River. Loss of water impounded by the dams would impact irrigation on thousands of acres of farmland, and the loss of electricity generated by the dams would increase the cost of pumping groundwater.

Proponents of breaching the dams have suggested that subsidies to farmers could be built into the multibillion dollar price tag.

“It is important to make agriculture ‘whole,’ so farmers do not suffer significant economic losses if the dams are breached,” the study reported.

But, according to the study, farmers don’t believe they will be made whole.

Farmers are worried about being “at the mercy of railroads” that would take over shipping and skeptical about switching to crops that use less water, according to the study.

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Washington Grain Commission CEO Glen Squires said he appreciated that the report’s writers captured different views on breaching the dams.

“I think they genuinely listened and began to realize this whole thing is more complicated than meets the eye,” he said. “It’s not as easy as giving a farmer a nickel, dime, 20 cents a bushel — case solved.”

Indeed, it is complicated. The livelihoods of farmers, barge operators, deck hands, dock workers and the vendors who support them hang in the balance. The loudest proponents of breaching the dams seem to have the least personally at stake.

We don’t know anyone who is against saving the whales or the salmon if the real human costs and impacts can be realistically addressed. Count us as skeptical that could ever be the case.

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