House committee debates a variety of education issues

In the midst of budget discussions last week, the House Education Committee heard testimony on legislation that revises graduation requirements spelled out in the Michigan Merit Curriculum and does away with school accreditation. 

 
HB 5451, sponsored by Rep. McBroom (R-Vulcan), would eliminate some graduation requirements--like Algebra II and foreign language--to accommodate students who are more interested in vocational training than going on to college. McBroom considers the current Merit Curriculum requirements "restricting what and how some students can learn" and "dooming them to failure."
 
Representatives from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) testified that the legislation will lower standards and ultimately harm a student's chance for future success. The merit curriculum has been in place since 2006 with the goal of preparing more students for college.
 
The Committee also heard testimony from Rep. Yonker (R-Caledonia) on his bill, HB 4934, that would repeal accreditation. 
 
After school is out for the summer, the Committee will be taking testimony on HB 4645 which eliminates the requirement for new teachers to take additional college courses for certification. Rep. Genetski (R-Saugatuck) is sponsor of the bill and a former teacher. He said the existing state requirements put an additional burden on teachers who don’t have the time or the finances to meet the criteria. He claims there is no research that links the teachers' additional coursework to student performance.