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House Votes to Lower Graduation Requirements

Under a plan advanced in the Michigan House of Representatives, graduating from Michigan high schools would be easier due to lower standards for students.

A package of bills, House Bills 4315-4318, would eliminate a requirement that students take a world language, would allow the use of occupational safety and health training to satisfy physical education and health class requirements, and would change high school graduation requirements. Several groups – including the Detroit Regional Chamber, the American Heart Association, and the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principal (MASSP) – also took positions opposing individual bills in the package. Bob Kefgen, Director of Government Relations for MASSP, asked the committee to consider what compelling reason existed to justify another change to Michigan’s graduation requirements.

“Repeatedly moving the target hurts students,” said Kefgen. “Since adopting the Michigan Merit Curriculum in 2006, our graduation rates are up while our drop-out rate is down.  Rigorous graduation requirements are working for Michigan and we should not lower our expectations.”

“To raise student achievement and close gaps, we need to keep our goals high and provide a demanding high school curriculum for all students,” said Brian Gutman, a spokesman for The Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research group. “We already have flexibility in the Merit Curriculum – these bills just lower expectations. Low expectations will never make Michigan a top ten education state.”

“These bills do NOT move Michigan students and workers forward into the 21stcentury, and instead hamper the ability of Michiganders to prepare to truly choose their own path and thus take advantage of education and work opportunities” added Kathy Berry, president of the Michigan Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

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Capital Update

House and Senate in Recess. The Michigan legislature does not meet this week or next. The Senate next meets on Tuesday, April 18 and the House resumes session on Wednesday, April 19.

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