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Michigan Merit Curriculum Faces Legislative Review—Again

Jennifer Smith

By Jennifer Smith, MASB Director of Government Relations

DashBoard, May 17, 2017

In 2014, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a set of bills into law that made some significant changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum. The passage of those bills meets one of MASB’s legislative priorities set by our Board of Directors at the beginning of the 2013-2014 legislative session. The changes were fully implemented for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

Public Acts 208 and 209 of 2014 added additional flexibility in the personal curriculum for all students and significant flexibility for those enrolled in certain career tech classes or programs. CTE students have greater flexibility in math, science, social sciences and foreign language. Some of the flexibility is through the personal curriculum and some through substitution of classes.

Since then, numerous bills have been introduced to make further changes to the curriculum on an issue-by-issue basis. During the 2015-2016 legislative session, seven bills were introduced to make changes to the MMC requirements. Just one made it to the Governor’s desk and was signed into law. The bill, House Bill 4390, allows a half-credit of economics requirement to be completed with a one-half credit course in personal economics.

This session, the House passed House Bills 4315-4318, which modify the requirements for foreign language and visual, performing and applied arts and for health. The bills also would allow statistics in place of Algebra II. These bills are currently under consideration by the Senate Education Committee.

With all of the various ideas and proposals floating around Lansing, the Senate Education Committee decided to form a subcommittee to look at the MMC as a whole. The Education Subcommittee on the Michigan Merit Curriculum has met three times so far and has focused on the history of the MMC, the Cherry Commission that created it and how it is being applied in our schools. The Chair, Sen. Marty Knollenberg (R-Troy), has stated that he views the committee as a way to have a discussion on what is going right, what isn’t and what needs to be done to make it better.

At this point, we don’t know what the final outcome or goal of the committee will be, but welcome the discussion. Continuing to make piecemeal changes to the MMC would only serve to confuse students and require constant changes for schools. Neither of which will contribute to raising the success of all students.

We look forward to being a part of this conversation and urge you to contact the committee members, Sen. Knollenberg, Sen. Dale Zorn (R-Ida) and Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-Taylor), if you have thoughts or information that would be helpful for their discussions. As always, you can also share those thoughts, ideas or questions with us.

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