No More Senior Year?

Utah, like Kansas and most states, has a budget problem. Some people have come up with an unusual approach to help keep the budget in check: Drop 12th grade, or at least let students who prove they are competent leave early. That’s the idea of Sen. Chris Buttars.

The Los Angeles Times had an article from a few weeks ago. It says that currently, 200 students in the state graduate early. That’s not many, but perhaps more would do so if given financial incentives, such as college scholarships.

A columnist for the New York Times offers an e-mail exchange with Sen. Buttars, who says that his proposal could cut the state’s budget deficit by 13 percent.

The senator points out that right now, students who take ninth-grade classes in eighth grade get no graduation credit for that work. He’d like to see that changed, and I agree. In addition, students could use online schooling to accelerate their schooling.

One reader leaves a comment that demonstrates that, for some students, the proposal is worthwhile: “I personally completed high school in 3 years because it was apparent to me that much of senior year is a waste of time in that students would just take random electives to fill their course-load.” Others criticize the idea, saying that when students already college needing remedial classes, why eliminate a year of high school? They must have missed the part about passing exams.

A columnist for the St. George (Utah) Daily Spectrum notes that an alternative is to delay the school-entry age, but argues against it: “This would set students way back in their learning. Many of these children have two working parents. Child care would be a major issue. ”

Child care would be a major issue? I understand the point that if you organize your life around a specific government policy (one of long standing), you deserve to have some input into changes to that policy. Still, it sounds as if the writer expects school to be a form of child care. It’s a good example of how schools are expected to do much–too much–besides teach.

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  • Brendon Rolfs  On March 9, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Your last statement said it all. Parents now expect schools to do most everything for them. One of the largest costs within a school district’s budget is transportation, something that has no direct effect on education. What would eliminating busing do to help our district budgets? If discontinued across the state/country parents would be forced to come up with their own solutions to getting thier child(ren) to school (pay to bus, private busing, carpool, etc). That would be something for each couple to consider when having children – will I be able to take care of them. Seems like a logical question for someone considering parenthood, huh? Employers would be forced to allow for such a change as well. Busing is just one example.

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