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Michigan may change graduation requirements

IMAGE / morgueFile

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Graduation requirements for Michigan high school students may see a change after a package of bills was passed by the Michigan House on March 30.

The bills include replacing required classes, such as English and math, with classes that focus more on 21st century skills.

Changes outlined in the package of bills include taking  a computer coding class or a science class instead of a required English class, as well as a statistics class instead of Algebra 2 (sponsored by Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch.) Other changes would include changes in foreign languages and health as well.

One bill states that students will have the option of replacing the required health class with 30 hours of safety training by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

These bills were developed to give students the option to take classes that may benefit them more in the future.

Many are in favor of these new bills, including the Associated Builders and Contractors of Michigan, because of the option to take classes to improve the needed skills for skilled-trade jobs they will have in the future.

A supporter of the bill, Rep. Gary Howell, R-North Branch, said in a Detroit Free Press article that he has seen more than 90,000 skilled-trade jobs go unfilled because people lacked the necessary skills.

By learning these skills in high school, more of these jobs would be able to be filled and students would be able to get a good paying job right after high school.

These change in requirements can also help students decide what they want to do for their career.

Many students are unsure of what they want to do in college and few classes in school pique their interest. But if new classes, such as computer coding, are offered at that school, students may join that class and find their new passion in life.

Kearsley High School has a head start on these classes with its Drafting and Design class, taught by Mr. Shane Atkinson.

This class introduces students to computer-aided drafting, designs, and careers related to CAD, such as visual communications and engineering. This class may replace a senior math or fine arts credit.

After students take Drafting and Design, if they are interested in the content the class teaches and get permission from Atkinson, they may take Advanced Drafting and Design.

I honestly think that any time you give students diversity in classes and let them experience something that’s hands on and activity based where they can practice what they’re learning, I think it will help them.”

— Mr. Shane Atkinson, drafting teacher

This class will take students a step forward in the world of CAD. Many of the topics of CAD covered in this class are topics covered in college courses. If these bills become law, this class may be taken to replace a senior math or Co-Op credit.

Atkinson believes that the new classes that may be available will be helpful to students.

“I honestly think that any time you give students diversity in classes and let them experience something that’s hands on and activity based where they can practice what they’re learning, I think it will help them,” Atkinson said.

Atkinson has seen “15 to 20 percent” of the students who took drafting and design become an engineer or go to school for engineering.

“I wouldn’t discount the people that aren’t full engineers but that are contributing to the engineering field,” Atkinson said. “People that are engineering technicians, assistants, designers and all these other things have all good paying jobs, but they may not have the engineering titles.”

Many of these students became interested in engineering because of this class, and even if they don’t have the title of engineer they are still getting paid good money in the part of the engineering field they are in.

But what if the class wasn’t available to students? Some of these students may still have become interested in engineering in high school. However, many of them wouldn’t have became interested until they took the class in college.

But many of them may not have chosen to take the class in college because they had to pay for the class. Or maybe they get through their first or second year of college and finally figure out they want to become an engineer.

This would cause students to spend unnecessary money and put them in a larger amount of college debt.

However, some believe that the now required classes, such as Algebra 2, that would be replaced if the bills were passed are necessary to students and should not be replaced as a graduation requirement.

The people writing these bills don’t understand what’s going on in our classrooms.”

— Mr. Chris Torok, math teacher

Mr. Chris Torok, math teacher, believes that it would not be beneficial to students.

“The people writing these bills don’t understand what’s going on in our classrooms,” Torok said.

He believes that students will try and take “the easy way out” and take statistics instead of Algebra 2. But, in his opinion, the classes are equally as hard.

He also believes that it could potentially waste students’ time.

“If they want to continue to higher math classes after they take statistics they can’t just come to my class (trigonometry and pre-calculus),” Torok said.

If students find out that statistics isn’t right for them, they would have to go back to Algebra 2 before they could continue on to more advanced math classes. They would try to get around it but ultimately have to take it anyway.

The package of bills are now waiting to be passed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

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The student news site of Kearsley High School in Flint, Michigan
Michigan may change graduation requirements