States, Vocational Groups in Rebellion over School Standards

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 08:44 AM

By Melanie Batley

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A movement against imposing minimum core standards at the high school level is sweeping the country, as states and vocational groups insist preparation for work is more important than college preparation.

According to Politico, the backlash stems in part from anger over the nationwide Common Core curriculum championed by President Barack Obama. It aims to impose rigorous academic standards in the context of a college-prep curriculum.

"We need pipe fitters and welders just as much as we need folks who want to pursue a four-year degree," Rebecca Park, legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau, told Politico. She favors allowing vocational classes to count toward math and science requirements.

States are already making moves to dump the requirements. Florida no longer insists students take chemistry, physics or Algebra II to graduate from high school. Texas also scrapped its Algebra II requirement and Washington state no longer requires students to take a foreign language, according to Politico.

New Yorkand Louisiana have also announced they will not expect students to meet new college ready benchmarks until 2022 and 2025 respectively.

Proponents of school standards say that while they are not opposed to vocational careers, an academic education is important for social mobility, and gives people more options for career advancement in the long run.

It has also been a concern for the last few decades that the United States is falling behind other countries in education, a trend which could damage the nation's long-term economic competitiveness.

"The dream that we could get to where all American children were educated to a high common level is in deep jeopardy," Sandy Kress, a longtime advocate for tough standards and an architect of the No Child Left Behind Law, told Politico. "It worries me a lot."

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