Most in Michigan Support Grad Requirements

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

A new survey, from Epic MRA and WXYZ-TV in Detroit, shows most Michigan residents -- and most Michigan parents -- support new, tougher graduation requirements.

The report also sheds light on what those residents and parents view as the highest priorities in education.

"How to communicate," parent and former teacher Bev Kirsten said, is the most critical skill high schoolers need to master.

Most Michigan residents agree with her.

The new statewide curriculum survey says English, or Language Arts, is the number one educational priority in Michigan.

Residents' top three priorities according to the survey -- things they say must be taught in every school -- are English, social sciences (including civics, government and economics) and household or business budgeting

The top two aren't much of a surprise, but parents we talked to in Lansing say skills like budgeting should be just as important.

"They should teach things about life in general, like balancing your checkbook or purchasing a car," Paul Delaforet said.

Former school administator Sam LoPresto agrees.

"Take what they learn and apply it to everyday living," he said.

Moving down the line, residents list career training, small classes and math as their next three priorities in the survey. Math is a key component of learning for those we spoke with.

"I believe Math is most important," Delaforet said.

Residents list their bottom three priorities as science, foreign language and the fine arts. The curriculum proposal doesn't include requirements for foreign language -- but it does lean heavily on science.

Michigan State University Professor Joan Ferrini-Mundy, who studies math and science education, says despite ranking seventh on the list of Michigan residents' nine educational priorities, science is key to a good education and rebuilding the state economy.

"These were areas where, all around the world we know it's important to our global competitiveness to have strong education," Ferrini-Mundy said.

The survey of 600 Michigan residents -- and another 400 parents -- also looks at possible downsides to a stronger statewide curriculum -- like the possibility of more dropouts.

Most of those surveyed say that problem does concern them, but they still support the new graduation requirements.

The state Board of Education passed these new requirements in December. They have yet to be ratified by the legislature by March 1st in order to take effect next school year.

For now, it appears that deadline will pass.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.

(You can access some parts of the survey by visiting Epic MRA at http://www.epicmra.com/RecentSurveys.htm)


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