New Florida law dumbs down high school graduation requirements

Apr 24, 2013 by

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Under the terms of a new Florida law, graduating high school will never be easier for students in The Sunshine State.

Beginning next school year, Florida’s high school seniors will be able to choose the type of diploma they want to begin their adult life with – the same way they’re able to choose which value meal they prefer at the local McDonald’s.

Each of the three diplomas – scholar, standard and merit – will have its own unique characteristics, reports

The “scholar” diploma is for college-bound students who want to demonstrate for university admissions officers that they passed an advanced math and science course during their high school career.

The “standard” diploma seems customized for members of the community-college set who need to demonstrate that they possess a basic level of math and science learning.

The “merit” diploma is for students who are headed directly for the workaday world and only need the barest minimum of academic skills.

According to, the merit diploma will indicate to employers that the graduate passed a raft of “industry-certified courses, in lieu of traditional math, science and English courses.”

Florida’s lawmakers and business community leaders are raving about the new three-tiered diploma system.

“We should all be proud of how this will help children get jobs when they finish their education,” said Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.

Associated Industries of Florida’s Tom Feeney told that the law will allow schools and businesses “to work hand-in-hand to develop curriculum and real-world training” that meet Florida’s workforce needs.

“From K-12 to college, students will be able to earn industry certifications and credentials that will position them for high-wage jobs,” Feeney told the news site.

That’s great news – if the purpose of a public education is simply to produce workers for whichever industry happens to be hiring at the time.

But if the purpose of public education is to produce men and women who will possess the knowledge and the critical thinking skills that will allow them to thoughtfully participate in our representative democracy, then this new system is bad news.

From kindergarten to their senior year, a student spends 2,340 days in school. That’s over 15,000 hours of instruction per student – at a cost of roughly $150,000 to the taxpayers.

In return for that huge investment of time and money, students should be able to receive both a basic level of knowledge – about math, English, history and civics – as well as practical skills that they can take into the workplace, if they so choose.

If Florida’s school leaders can’t meet those modest goals, then they’re in the wrong profession.

Florida’s lawmakers should be improving public education, not watering it down.

So why are they embracing this dumbed-down diploma system?

Some of them certainly believe they’re doing right by the state’s non-academically inclined students.

Other are probably agreeing to the plan because they know it will drive up the state’s graduation rates – probably to unheard of levels. This will allow the lawmakers to tell voters that they’ve done a great job “fixing” the state’s public education system.

But they haven’t.

They’ve only succeeded in lowering the bar for high school graduation to the point that it’s on the ground, and anyone who can step over it will be rewarded with an increasingly worthless diploma.

That’s not education reform; that’s anti-education reform.

via New Florida law dumbs down high school graduation requirements – :: Education Research, Reporting, Analysis and Commentary.

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