Legislative Action

Lawmakers consider expulsion rights, grad requirements

Money smarts equals math credit

High school students could earn math credit by passing a course in “financial literacy” if a bill introduced by state Sen. Michael Switalski, D-Roseville, is adopted. Michigan now requires students to successfully complete algebra, geometry, algebra II and a fourth math class before receiving a high school diploma. If Senate Bill 834 is adopted, a class in financial literacy would fulfill the fourth class requirement.

School districts already had the option of using such a course to meet the requirement, but making it explicit would “raise awareness of the importance of financial literacy,” a Senate Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill said. Research shows that youngsters today “ ... do not have a solid understanding of money management methods, principles of saving and investing, and other key financial concepts,” the analysis said.

Other courses that fulfill the fourth class requirement include trigonometry, statistics, precalculus, calculus, applied math, accounting, business math or a retake of algebra II.

Track this item online: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-SB-834

Due process in expulsion cases

School districts would be required to inform students of their due process rights in permanent expulsion cases and also to develop policies surrounding those rights under legislation proposed by Rep. Glenn Steil Jr., R-Cascade Township.

Under Michigan law, expulsions of up to 180 days are mandatory for students guilty of physical assault against another student, and permanent expulsions are required for incidents that involve firearms or other dangerous weapons, physical assault against a school employee, arson or criminal sexual misconduct. House Bill 5411 would require schools to give students a detailed description of their rights in such cases. Current practice varies widely among districts, according to a House Fiscal Agency analysis of the bill.

Related legislation would require school board members to abstain from voting in expulsion cases in which they have a conflict of interest. Both bills were referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this item online: www.michiganvotes.org/2007-HB-5411

‘General diploma’ alternative

Students could earn a “general diploma” in Michigan by taking fewer math, science and social science classes, but more career and technical education classes, under legislation proposed by state Rep. Joel Sheltrown, D-West Branch.

In response to concerns over the state’s new high school graduation requirements, Sheltrown introduced House Bill 5943 in April. The legislation would allow students to receive a diploma if they earned three credits in math, two in science and two in social science, rather than four in math, three in science and three in social science that a standard diploma now requires. The general diploma also would require the student to complete at least three credits in a career and technical education program.

Other requirements would remain the same under either curriculum, including two credits in a language other than English, a health and physical education component and an online learning component.

The bill was referred to the House Education Committee.

Track this item online: www.michiganvotes.org/2008-HB-5943