Educational reform needed

High schools need to do much more than just prepare students for college.
Apr 25, 2013

That preparation is, of course, very important. But we also have to prepare high school students for vocations such as electrician and auto mechanic.

We commend some Michigan lawmakers who are again making an attempt to change the state’s high school graduation requirements. They believe present requirements do not provide flexibility to allow students to pursue career and technical education programs.

In 2006, the state Legislature passed and then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed the Michigan Merit Curriculum into law, which made the state’s graduation requirements among the toughest in the country.

Supporters believe the law was necessary to prepare a workforce needed to improve the state’s economy.

But critics believe the law was designed solely for students headed to college. They charge that it leaves the other students behind.

State Rep. Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, recently told the House Education Committee that he wasn’t trying to degrade the education system and create a two-tier set of students, but rather trying to engage a group of students he believes is falling through the cracks. He co-sponsored a two-bill package that would allow students to have the flexibility to explore career and vocational training education.

One part of the 2006 law makes it mandatory for a high school student to take four years of math, including both algebra I and algebra II. Many educators have expressed concern that some students are just not wired to sit in an algebra class for two years.

New bills being proposed still call for four years of math, but students would be able to take statistics, technical math or another math relevant to their career and technical education.

The proposed bills also remove foreign language requirements and allow students to use extra-curricular activities to replace some physical education credits. Agricultural science would be an eligible science course.

We are not calling for a watering down of high school academics, but we believe there is reason to review them with students in mind who are not college-bound.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.

Comments

gnaeyaert

If removing foreign language, higher level math and science isn't "watering down of high school academics," then I'm not sure what it is. The Michigan Merit Curriculum was developed to better prepare our young people for both college and meaningful careers. Since it's adoption, ACT test scores are up and dropout rates are down. It seems the system is working pretty well.

AnnaSmith782

Great article.

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