The Senate Education Committee took up new Michigan Merit Curriculum legislation on Tuesday. SB 600 would make sweeping changes to the state's graduation requirement law. The part of the bill garnering the most focus is its proposed elimination of the algebra II requirement. But the legislation goes well beyond just one course and includes a number of provisions that are concerning to MASSP.
The bill is broad enough in scope that it defies quick summary, but here are a few of the most significant concerns. As currently written, SB 600:
- Eliminates the algebra II requirement by replacing it with a long list of course titles...in many cases with courses for which there are no standards and some of which would not generally be considered math courses (e.g. financial literacy).
- Replaces the required courses in science and social science with similarly long lists of course titles. In many cases the lists includes courses for which there are no standards and some of which would not generally be considered courses in that subject area (e.g. allowing computer science to count as science credit).
- Eliminates the health and physical education requirements entirely.
- Eliminates the personal curriculum.
This was the first hearing on the bill and featured an hour of testimony both for and against the proposal. Another hearing is scheduled for this coming Tuesday. The timeline moving forward is unclear.
MASSP has been working with the sponsor’s office to resolve our concerns, but without success so far. We are planning to testify in opposition to the bill as currently written and to outline our concerns in detail for the committee. MASSP members should expect an email prior to that hearing with more details about the specifics of the legislation, details about the Association's current position and concerns, and talking points that you can use in discussing this with colleagues.
As of the writing of this article, MASA, MASB, and a number of other education groups had yet to take a position on the bill or had voiced concerns about some of its provisions. A number of groups have lined up in opposition to the legislation including the Detroit and Grand Rapids Chambers of Commerce, Business Leaders for Michigan, the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, the Education Trust Midwest, and the Great Lakes Education Project.
The bill is only in the initial stages of the lawmaking process and there is a long way to go. Changes are almost certain if this bill is to ever make it into law. MASSP will continue to keep members informed as the process move.
Written by Bob Kefgen, MASSP Director of Government Relations