Good points, aeh.

I've seen a whole lot of positive aspects of DE, both for my kids and others. I took a physics class last year, and there was a DE student in the class. She was accepted to one of the UCs to study physics, and I suspect she got nearly two years of credit toward her degree there. Another young women in the neighborhood got a free vet assistant qualification through a DE program. She studied anatomy and physiology, animal behavior, etc. She was from a low-income family, and this program really helped her -- at no cost.

AP programs began in the very late 40s or very early 50s, when community colleges weren't as ubiquitous as they are now. I counted 13 community colleges from San Jose to San Francisco and around the bay, and only 2 of them existed before 1953 (one in SF and one in SJ). So DE really wasn't an option until much later (1974 at LaGuardia CC maybe?). Back then, AP courses were a great idea. But also back then, the system wasn't obsessed with bubble tests and industrial measures of educational outcomes. As I recall, they also taught a semester's worth of college work in a full academic year. IMO, this was a strength, given that college students don't typically take 6-7 full-credit courses in a semester, but HS students do.

On the other hand, my DE-enrolled kids take 2-3 HS classes, and can take up to 11 college credits per semester (= 2 full-credit classes with room for PE at the college).

Maybe it's time to re-evaluate AP. Maybe its time has passed, at least in places with a community college. Most college classes (and all the good ones) don't revolve around memorizing stuff for a bubble test, and AFAIK, none of them assign homework over the summer. Plus, DE programs put students at real-live college. They learn EXACTLY what to expect from college, because they've been there.