Under legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Stamas and recently signed into law by Gov. Whitmer, career and technical education students, including those enrolled in agriscience programs, will now have permanent flexibility within the state’s high school graduation requirements.
Supported by Michigan Farm Bureau, the updated law allows agriscience students and others to continue to apply their career and technical education coursework toward the state’s Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC) graduation requirements.
“Now more than ever, it’s clear that education is not a one-size-fits-all process for our students,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “This reform ensures that Michigan’s current and future high school students will have flexibility in choosing the best course of study for them to learn, graduate and prepare for successful careers.”
In 2006, Michigan adopted one of the nation’s most rigorous sets of high school graduation requirements. The MMC requires students to complete a minimum of 18 credits in eight specific subject areas in order to receive a high school diploma.
Under a Stamas bill signed in 2018, high school students could substitute a career-tech course or an arts class for the second required foreign language credit to meet the MMC requirements until 2024. Stamas’ most recent legislation, Senate Bill 171, removes the sunset to make the flexibility permanent.
“Enabling students to count an additional applied career and technology class toward their graduation can allow them to try new and interesting areas of study and help meet our economy’s growing demand for skilled talent,” Stamas said.
Careerline Tech Center, part of the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District, is home to an FFA program led by Agricultural and Animal Sciences Instructor Tony McCaul. He is thrilled to see the flexibility in class selection made permanent.
“Working for 12 years in agriculture education, I see the impact of allowing the students the more flexibility in their schedules to ensure the students can take the course that will help them in their future,” McCaul said. “Our career and technology education courses help students get set up for success and this bill allows the students to take advantage of them.”
In 2014, two house bills signed into law made it possible for career and technical education programs and curriculum to fulfil portions of algebra, physical education, science, physics, chemistry and foreign language requirements. That legislation, along with the latest removing sunsets, fulfills years of effort through Farm Bureau member-driven policy allowing greater opportunity for students to participate in career and technical education programs like agriscience.
In addition to MFB, many education and business groups supported SB 171, including the Michigan Department of Education, Michigan Education Association, Michigan Chamber of Commerce and Michigan Manufacturers Association.
“Farmers understand the rigor and intensity that happens in a career and technical education or FFA program,” said MFB President Carl Bednarski. “We applaud the leadership of Sen. Stamas, who helped ensure students now and into the future have the flexibility to enroll in a CTE program while meeting their curriculum requirements.”