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michigan merit curriculum

The four Republican governor candidates on the stage together for the debate
Screenshot from WOOD-TV's stream of the debate / WOOD-TV

The four Republicans running for governor held their first debate this week. It was the first time Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines have appeared together on one stage.

There were arguments over the handling of the Flint water crisis and who's the biggest Trump supporter. One thing they all agreed on is that Michigan should not legalize recreational marijuana, but they said they'd respect the wishes of the voters. This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rebecca Kruth and senior news analyst Jack Lessenberry talk about what else stood out in the debate.

Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

High schools in Michigan might have to add financial literacy to their curriculum. Schools would have to offer a class on personal finance management skills like spending, saving, borrowing and investing to 11th and 12th graders. That’s if a bipartisan bill making its way through the state legislature is passed.

“In the U.S. we’ve just passed a trillion in credit card debt and I just think it’s really important for the young students – 11th and 12th grade – to be prepared for their lives going forward,” said bill sponsor Diana Farrington, R-Utica.

Empty classroom
Kevin Wong / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

High schoolers: don't want to tackle that required foreign language? How about taking computer coding instead?

A package of bills recently passed by the State House would let high schoolers do exactly that. Under the bills, students would be able to choose more technical and vocational training instead of some of the current courses set out by the Michigan Merit Curriculum, such as foreign languages.

Racine Boat Manufacturing Company Plant, Muskegon, MI
Flickr user Wystan/creative commons

It’s probably pretty stressful being a high school principal, for all kinds of reasons.

But Eric Alburtus, principal of Portage Central High School, spends a big chunk of his time worrying about the arts. He’s specifically worried about the kind of human beings our schools are producing, when kids must fulfill heavy requirements in math and science, yet they barely have a chance to study music, choir, theater, or the visual arts.

(For a more complete look at the state’s requirements, click here.)

Alburtus says arts classes give kids a chance to discover new worlds and different ways of thinking and creating.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry discuss possible changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum, finances and teacher layoffs at Buena Vista schools, the possibility of Michigan Representative Mike Rogers being the next FBI director, and Governor Rick Snyder's declaring that nearly a quarter of Michigan is in a state of disaster from flooding.

photo of Students in class at Waterford Mott High School.
courtesy: Mott High School

There’s a proposal in Lansing to change the state’s mandated high school graduation requirements. A state House education panel today heard testimony on bills to adjust the Michigan Merit Curriculum.

Republican Representative Ed McBroom says it’s designed to prepare students for traditional four-year universities. He says that means Michigan’s losing skilled trade workers.

“If you’re really interested in welding or in nursing or aviation, why should you be boxed out of taking that because you – like everybody else – must have this exact same cookie cutter education.”

Supporters of the curriculum say it already allows schools to design alternative graduation requirements for individual students.

They say it promotes skills that are necessary for all jobs – including those that don’t require a four-year degree.

Jake Neher / MPRN

Small business owners want Michigan to make its curriculum standards for high school students more flexible.

The state passed broad standards in 2006 for all students. They are supposed to ensure all students are ready for college.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum requires four years of math and English language arts; three years of science and social studies; and two years of a foreign language. Complete standards are outlined here.

The week in Michigan politics

Oct 24, 2012
User: cncphotos / flickr

This week Christina Shockley and Jack Lessenberry talked about Proposal 6, how a new report indicates that the Michigan Merit Curriculum that was implemented in high schools in 2006 has not shown good results, and how two campaign staffers of former US Representative Thadeus McCotter will stand trial. They're charged with conspiring to get then-Congressman McCotter on the 2012 ballot with bogus petitions.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Michigan curriculum has disappointing results

"An effort to improve Michigan’s high school academic standards appears to be having a disappointing result. The Michigan Merit Curriculum was implemented in Michigan high schools in 2006. Researchers from Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan found that test scores improved only slightly for students  entering high school with strong academic skills.   But for those with weak skills, test scores fell and graduation rates declined," Steve Carmody reports.

Snyder says Prop 6 would cause court battle if passed

"Governor Rick Snyder is worried Proposal 6 on the November ballot would spark a lengthy court battle if it’s passed. The initiative would require a state-wide vote before any new international crossing could be built in the state. Governor Rick Snyder says his plan for a new international bridge in Detroit is not meant to put the existing Ambassador Bridge out of business. Current bridge owners say a new bridge is not necessary, and would be expensive for Michigan taxpayers. Canada has agreed to front the costs of the new bridge, and a number of studies have concluded there will be no new costs to state taxpayers," Jake Neher reports.

McCotter aids in court for campaign scandal

"Two men who worked for a Detroit-area congressman are returning to court to learn if they'll stand trial in a campaign scandal. Paul Seewald and Don Yowchuang are charged with conspiring to get then-Congressman Thaddeus McCotter on the 2012 ballot with bogus petitions. The judge says he'll make a decision on the matter today," the AP reports.

Michigan Department of Education

A new study shows a disappointing result for Michigan’s new high school academic standards.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum was introduced in 2006. The intent was to strengthen academic performance.

Researchers say students who entered high school in 2007 with strong academic skills saw only a small improvement in their math, science and reading tests scores.

There’s a push to change Michigan's high school graduation standards to encourage more students to pursue vocational training. But state education officials oppose the proposed changes.