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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  • by kim Location: jackson on Aug 20, 2009 at 04:32 PM
    I feel that not every child needs 4 years of math.Theses requirements have caused a problem for those kids that want to major in arts and music. This has affected my daughter who wants to major in art and use the career center to get a jump start on that.We are so worried about her getting all of her credits in to graduate with her class.She was in band since 6th grade but had to drop it this year(11th grade)so she could attend career center.I think it depends on what each individual child is wanting to pursue as a career and their counselors should point them in the direction of what classes they need to take.I hope for all the children they change this law,because not all of our children want to be scientists or doctors.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 19, 2009 at 07:55 AM
    A lot of skills won't be needed if bussiness keep moving over seas.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2009 at 01:53 PM
    If students have a clue of what they want to do for their future career, then they should be able to decide whether or not to take the advanced math. As long as the courses are offered, the students should seek advice from their counselors, teachers, parents, or use their own judgement on what they need. If they choose the easy path to get a diploma, then that's their choice. When I was in high school, I got into mechanical drafting and started learning machining techniques, which required a lot of algebra, and some Trig in college. Now I'm a machinist, and I'll admit I use math every day, and it surprises me that some adults working the drive thru window don't know how to make correct change!
  • by Dave Location: Litchfield on Aug 18, 2009 at 08:23 AM
    If the United States is to remain a world leader, the next generations of citizens must be able to understand math and science. The four year requirement of higher mathematics should be augumented by a four year requirement for science, history, and civics classes. There are fewer and fewer high paying jobs that don't require a college degree. Do we really want to consign our children to lives of poverty, (and turn the U.S. into a third world country)?
  • by Debbie Location: Jackson on Aug 18, 2009 at 08:12 AM
    I think a personal finance class would be much more beneficial to many students. Not every person has a math mind and with the problems that people get in to with their finances, learning how to manage a budget and credit cards would help more than Algebra II. I have kids affected by this - class of 2012 and 2013 - and they will take the math, but all kids can't handle it. We should be helping those kids with life skills they can really use, not discouraging them by forcing them through a math class that is over their head, and as carolyn stated, they will probably never have the need for anyway.
  • by kelly on Aug 18, 2009 at 06:13 AM
    No wonder students are behind in education in this country. 4 year math is a great thing which will help them in the future.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 18, 2009 at 06:13 AM
    It is amazing how much you use match in every day life. Computing simple change, figure out which size is the better deal, calculating the amortization of a bank loan, election results and calculating fuel efficiency of cars are some of the simple examples of where you need math. It is needed positions like store managers, warehouse supervisors, cashiers, delivery people. If people do not think they need the math, then they want people to be 40 year old burger flippers and politicians.
  • by Chris Location: dug out cave in mason on Aug 18, 2009 at 05:26 AM
    This makes me sick to watch lawmakers consider dumbing down the gereration behind me. I'm glad i went to school in the 70's and 80's and worked my butt off cause i had to. The greatest threat to the class these lawmakers come from is intelligent and informed commoners.
  • by carolyn Location: osseo on Aug 18, 2009 at 05:15 AM
    I am a teacher starting my 37th year. If I had to take the math requirements now, I probably would not be able to pass. I am a UofM graduate, an excellent teacher, and I never needed algebra II in my whole life. I love teaching Everyday Math out of the University of Chicago, but I don't need advanced math to be a successful elementary school teacher.
  • by St. James Location: St. Johns on Aug 18, 2009 at 03:50 AM
    The reporter missed the oppertunity to mention that Rep. Sheltrown is a Democrat from West Branch. I am sure there was no intent to cover that fact up. The champions of "BIG EDUCATION", dumbing down the people. Mr. Sheltrown can't afford to have educated, informed voters in his district, he may not be able to get reelected.
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