Schools Chief Touts H.S. Curriculum Plan to Local Districts

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The state's top educator is making the case for the proposed new graduation requirements. Officials with the East Lansing, Haslett, Okemos and Ingham Intermediate school districts met with schools chief Mike Flanagan Tuesday.

"We need to do this or Michigan's going to (have to) turn the light out," Flanagan said.

For Flanagan, the state's superintendent of public instruction, education is all about economics. He says people around the state need to realize those old-fashioned auto industry jobs are largely gone.

"You can't just graduate from high school ... and get a job on the line," Flanagan said.

Even for those students who do go from high school straight to the shop floor, the superintendent says math and science are vital.

"At the Cadillac plant (in Lansing) ... you need an associate's degree. That requires math and science," he said.

Haslett Superintendent Mike Duda is largely on board with the requirements.

"They seem very, very fair," he said.

In a question-and-answer session, other school officials at Tuesday's meeting did not challenge the idea of statewide standards, or any of the primary requirements in the state's plan.

Some superintendents around the state have questioned the additional costs to the districts. Flanagan says they'll stay roughly the same.

"You have six classes, you have six teachers. The question is are we going to teach them watered-down math, or are we going to teach them algebra?" he said.

The Haslett superintendent says his district is already in line with most of new standards.

"Our requirements are fairly stringent," Duda said.

Flanagan says he wants to see stringent requirements around the state. And he says those requirements should stay specific.

"Four credits in math is not what we're saying. We're saying Algebra, Geometry," Flanagan said.

Duda is holding off on expressing full support until the legislature sets a final list of requirements.

"That remains to be seen. We don't have details yet," he said.

Those details are now up to the legislature. Flanagan had said the legislature needs to pass the new requirements by March 1st to get next year's high school class on board. It now appears that deadline won't be met.

"We have to move these kids up," Flanagan said.

The superintendent called on local school leaders tonight to implement as many of the new requirements as they can -- even if they don't pass the legislature soon enough.

-- in Haslett, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.