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Sen. John Proos: Michigan’s high school curriculum needs flexibility

Published 9:59pm Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Michigan has one of the nation’s most detailed and comprehensive set of requirements that a student must complete to graduate from high school. It was designed to set a high goal for our students to achieve and to ensure all Michigan high school graduates are ready for college.

Unfortunately, it is missing a key component to our economy and to making sure that every student is prepared for the workforce: vocational and technical education.

I recently co-sponsored legislation introduced in the Michigan Senate to allow options for students to count additional career and technical education courses toward the state’s high school graduation requirements.

The reform is about expanding choices for Michigan students and parents by allowing more flexibility in the high school curriculum.

I co-sponsored this plan to give southwest Michigan students the ability to choose the educational path that best fits their skills and desires.

I support a rigorous education that prepares our children for success in college and beyond, but that guideline must acknowledge that college is not for everyone.

Senate Bill 997 would revise the state’s high school graduation requirements to allow seven credits be filled either through the current route or through career and technical courses, which would include work-based learning, such as an internship or apprenticeship.

Corey Carolla, director of Business and Industry at Michigan Works of Benton Harbor said: “As the current workforce ages and retires, southwest Michigan manufacturers are finding it increasingly difficult to find young people with the technical skills needed for these jobs. We need to use these additional courses in path to a high school diploma to increase the awareness and readiness of our youth, a career in manufacturing is a great option.  Our youth need to have this as an option.”

We have done much to make Michigan more competitive in the pursuit of jobs, including manufacturing jobs. While we work to bring these jobs to our state, we must ensure that Michigan will continue to have workers with the skills necessary to land these jobs.

That is the main reason I am working to add more flexibility to our high school curriculum.

Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents the 21st District, which includes Berrien and Cass counties and most of Van Buren County.

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