Background: In 2006, high school graduation requirements in Michigan were changed in an effort to better prepare students for college and the workplace. The changes, referred to as “The Michigan Merit Curriculum” defines a common set of required credits for high school graduation. Some have suggested that this new set of requirements is more focused on college preparation at the expense of other career paths such as skilled trades. They would like to see the curriculum modified to recognize that not all high school graduates are destined for college.
Supporters of changing the current Michigan Merit Curriculum say that it was designed by members of the “education bureaucracy” who assume everyone should go to college regardless of desire or aptitude for other career paths. They claim some of the requirements, such as Algebra 2, are more about appearances and less about practical and useful life skills. Supporters of change contend that many good paying jobs in the skilled trades go wanting for qualified workers because of the lopsided emphasis on feeding the “education machine” of colleges and universities. They believe that students should be allowed to substitute vocational training and skilled trades courses for some of the unnecessary college preparatory requirements in the current curriculum.
Opponents of changing the current Michigan Merit Curriculum argue that it is a result of collaboration between the State Board of Education, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Legislature, and numerous education associations who worked together to better prepare students for greater success and to secure the economic future of our state. They say the current requirements tell college and university admissions officers and career and technical schools that the student is ready for the rigors of post-secondary education. Opponents of changing the requirements claim that the current curriculum tells the world that Michigan is committed to having the best-educated workforce and that watering it down by allowing alternative coursework sends the wrong message at a time when a quality education has never been more important.
Should changes be made to the Michigan Merit Curriculum?
76% Yes 19% No 5% Undecided