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The Detroit News: Parents, not teachers, should make lifetime decisions on their kids' future (09/01/09)
Then, find your Senator, and send them an email telling them to you want higher standards for your children, and do not want your local school district to water down your child’s education. Tell them the Geiss bill should not be adopted without modification.
When it comes to providing children with the college-prep skills they need to succeed in college, and ultimately our knowledge-based economy, local school boards were simply not getting the job done.
The state legislature created new high school graduation requirements that fill that void.
One of the provisions of the new requirements was an “escape clause”. It recognizes that a presumably small number of students might not be able to fulfill the requirements. Students with severe learning disabilities, for example, might struggle.
As written, the “Personal Curriculum Modification” allows a parent to approach the school and requires a personal curriculum, essentially opting out of the state requirements. It was intended to be a deliberative process, involving the parent, teachers, counselors, and administrators.
While there are good compromise aspects in the legislation, this new Geiss bill would ultimately move the decision making from the parents to the teachers, and that is wrong.
It’s not a question of an individual teacher’s ability to evaluate a child. It’s instead about the institutional power. There are undoubtedly teachers who would make a careful and thoughtful decision, but there are also teachers who would not.
I’ve personally witnessed too many incidents of educators trying to lower the bar for children. Empowering them to unilaterally establish lower expectations is a lifetime sentence, and is a step backwards.
I’ve pasted below the article in case the link doesn’t work.
Editorial: Parents, not teachers, should make lifetime decisions on their kids' future
The Detroit News
Michigan teachers and lawmakers have debated for more than two years about the state's new high school curriculum. Now Lansing may have developed a sensible compromise bill, but it goes too far by gutting the rights of parents to make life-altering decisions about their children's futures.
The state House passed Rep. Douglas Geiss' bill 4511 last week. It is designed to make it easier for students to obtain permission to take a personal curriculum to graduate from high school. The authors of the original curriculum allowed for any Michigan student to request a personal curriculum out of respect to the diversity of students and their interests.
Current law rightly allows only parents or a legal guardian to request a personal curriculum. Policymakers worried, with good reason, that if teachers had the power to determine a student's high school coursework without a parent's consent, some would abuse it. Teachers who did not want to upgrade their skills and adapt to the new curriculum instead could lobby students to take easier classes -- even though that could be at the student's expense.
Those concerns have proven to be valid. A small but vocal minority of teachers have remained resistant to adopting the state curriculum. Instead many have fought it, arguing they shouldn't have to change despite the fact that more and more Michigan students are poorly prepared to compete for Knowledge Economy jobs.
The Geiss bill, a political compromise, contains some reasonable ideas, including the option of allowing a teacher to help parents develop a personal curriculum for their child.
But the bill goes far too far by allowing teachers to make life-altering decisions for students. No one but parents should determine their child's high school curriculum. The consequences are too far-reaching. What coursework a student takes in high school is a predictor for their success in college, most trades classes and their livelihoods later.
The Senate should make sure this bill does not gut parents' rights. Any compromise should not compromise the future of Michigan's children.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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