Legislative Alert

Repeal, amend grad requirements

Various Michigan legislators want to repeal, amend or provide an alternative to the state's relatively new high school graduation requirements, according to bills introduced this year. As adopted in 2006, current law states that Michigan public school students must earn four credits each in math and English, three each in science and social sciences, two in foreign language and one each in health/physical education and the arts, plus complete an online course or "experience," before receiving a high school diploma.

House Bill 4534, proposed by Rep. Brian Calley, R-Portland, would repeal those requirements altogether but mandate that schools be accredited according to standards developed by the state department of education and approved by legislative committees. Those standards would include how well students do on standardized tests, but also curriculum, staff, facilities and other aspects of school operations. Schools that fail to meet accreditation standards would face a variety of sanctions, up to and including closure.

Taking a different approach, Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch, has introduced a bill that would let schools grant a "general diploma" to high school students who complete a course of reduced curriculum requirements as well as authorize up to 15 "specialty schools" with lower requirements but certain performance standards. As described in House Bill 4410, the general diploma would cut back on math, science and social science coursework, but require students to take three career and technical courses.

Meanwhile, House Bill 4511, proposed by Rep. Douglas Geiss, D-Taylor, would allow teachers or counselors to request that certain students be allowed to follow a "personal curriculum" in high school. Currently only parents or legal guardians can make such a request. A personal curriculum requires a student to take as much of the required content as is "practicable" and sets measurable goals the student must meet. While teachers or counselors could request personal curricula for students under the bill, parents or legal guardians would have to agree.

All of the bills were referred to the House Education Committee.

Track these bills online at:
www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4511 www.michiganvotes.org/2009-HB-4534


Teach students about UAW, AFL-CIO

When Michigan teachers get to the lesson on labor history, they should focus their instruction on the formation of the UAW, the Flint Sitdown Strike, Walter Reuther, the AFL-CIO or other topics as listed in Senate Bill 315, the bill suggests. Introduced by Sen. John Gleason, D- Flushing, the one-paragraph bill says that schools should be encouraged to cover those people and organizations in course content, but not be limited to them. The bill was referred to the Committee on Education.

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Protect college money from seizure

Creditors would not be allowed to seize assets in a state-authorized college savings plan or tuition prepayment plan under the terms of Senate Bill 352, introduced March 10 by Sen. Glenn Anderson, D-Westland. The bill would apply in personal bankruptcy cases. Assets already protected from seizure under Michigan law include items as varied as family photos, tombs, and the tools needed for a trade or profession, as well as certain financial assets. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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Repeal charter school cap

House Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, has introduced legislation to eliminate the 150-school cap on the number of public school academies that can be authorized by Michigan universities. House Bill 4511 would leave intact the right of K-12 school districts, intermediate school districts and community colleges to also authorize public charter schools

Some universities have waiting lists of organizations that would like to open charter schools but are prevented from doing so by the cap. The measure was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this bill online at: