High School Math Requirement May Shrink

By: Jamie Edmonds Email
By: Jamie Edmonds Email

Rebecca Nobles' two sons both go to Eastern High School and both play football, but only one will take four years of math.

"I think it's a great idea," Nobles said, "having that extra year of math will help them out when they are preparing for college."

Thanks to a new set of graduation requirements adopted by the state two years ago, the class of 2011 will be the first to have math instruction for four years that must include geometry, algebra I and algebra II.

But state representative Joel Sheltrown said not every student needs that level of math instruction. He introduced a bill that would require just three years of math -- making algebra II an elective -- allowing students to substitute it for a career tech or financial responsibility class.

Sheltrown said there has been a 300 percent increase in the dropout rate since the state adopted these new requirements. He said his bill is not about dumbing down the curriculum, but about adding flexibility.

Because, he said, every child is different, and every student will not head to a four-year college.

The Michigan Department of Education said they oppose the bill as written -- parents we talked to Monday didn't seem too keen on the idea either.

"I don't think it's a good idea to limit what these kids need to learn," Richard Monti, an Eastern High School parent, said. "It's a science and math society, they need to know these things."

Monti's son is one student required to take four years of math.

"I took algebra II freshman year and took geometry last year," Daniel Monti said.

He said math is kind of like eating your vegetables.

"I don't want to take it because it's hard, but we all need it," Daniel Monti said. "We should take it."

The House Education Committee is expected to take up the issue this week. Representative Sheltrown claims to have support for his bill in the house.

He also says the Small Business Association of Michigan among other business groups support his plan.

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