Flexible technical education made law | Michigan Farm News

Flexible technical education made law

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by Paul W. Jackson and Nicole Sevrey

Michigan Merit Curriculum signing
Gov. Rick Snyder signed Public Act 208 and 209 of 2014 into law June 25 at Dakota High School in Macomb County. The law allows flexibility in the Michigan Merit Curriculum that offers career and technical education students (background) to learn various required skills through hands-on practical applications during their high school years. Front from left at the signing are MFB President Wayne H. Wood, MFB lobbyist Rebecca Park, Gov. Snyder, and State Representative Ed McBroom.
Video follows

Seated in front of a student-built house destined to become a Habitat for Humanity dwelling, Gov. Rick Snyder on June 25 signed House Bills 4465 and 4466 into law at Dakota High School in Macomb County.

The legislation, which Michigan Farm Bureau promoted in the state legislature, created career and technical education flexibility in the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC).

The bills amend, among other things, the mandate that high school students learn algebra II in a traditional class setting. Instead, it allows a career and technical education course to teach math skills, utilizing practical application. Farm Bureau policy supports offering students increased opportunity for participation in career and technical education (CTE) programs.

The bills became Public Act 208 and 209 of 2014.

The new law mandates that:

  • CTE programs or curriculum incorporating the benchmarks of Algebra II may fulfill the Algebra II credit.
  • School districts have the option to award the required half-credit for Physical Education (PE) to students engaged in extracurricular athletics or other activities involving physical activity.
  • Foreign language is required but clarification was made that foreign language experience and classes taken before a student enters high school may be grade-equivalent and count toward the MMC foreign language credit. Schools are strongly encouraged to ensure all students complete at least one foreign language credit in grades K-6. In addition, high school students may swap one of the foreign language credits for a CTE program or a fine and performing arts course; however, this requirement has a six-year sunset.
  • The standard for physics and chemistry was altered to allow anatomy or agriscience to fulfill the requirement. In addition, any program that teaches the same benchmarks of chemistry or physics may fulfill the requirement.
  • Under the third science credit, clarity was given that computer science or a CTE program may fulfill the requirement.
  • The bills also included changes to personal curriculum (PC) requirements that include increased parental rights in the PC process, notification about PC options, and a statement that PC shall not be limited or discouraged by school districts. Additionally, more flexibility was given to students and counselors in creating personal curricula to recognize completion of a CTE program in nearly every required subject area.

"This accomplishment was a team effort and could not have been achieved without everyone pulling in the same direction," said Rebecca Park, the Farm Bureau lobbyist who spearheaded Farm Bureau's member-developed policy effort to offer more career and technical education flexibility.

"Farm Bureau members responded to the call to action in December," she said. "Members stepped up when contacts to legislators were requested; Farm Bureau worked with like-minded business groups such as Associated Builders and Contractors and the Michigan Homebuilders Association; and of course Farm Bureau's Friends of Agriculture in the legislature played a vital role. Representatives Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) and Joel Johnson (R-Clare) were the primary bill sponsors and they deserve accolades for their steadfast commitment as do many Senators such as Sen. Casperson (R-Escanaba) who all worked together to make this happen."

Farm Bureau policy supports the legislation that has been a priority for the organization to allow students increased opportunity for participation in career and technical education (CTE) programs.