Our View: Expecting more of our students
October 27, 2010
A committee at Steamboat Springs High School has proposed raising the bar for students, and that's a great idea.
The curriculum committee has suggested increasing the number of credits required for graduation from 23 to 25. The proposed changes include the addition of 0.5 credits in math, 0.5 credits of personal financial literacy and 1 credit of world languages. The number of language arts credits would remain at 4, but 1 world literature credit requirement would be added.
This change is a logical step for several reasons.
It makes sense to align Steamboat with other public schools in the area — Hayden High School, Moffat County High School and Soroco High School each require 25 credits. Gunnison Watershed School District requires 26 credits, and it would be a good idea for Steamboat to consider raising the bar even more if the first change is successful.
Additionally, American youths are going to have to compete in a global economy. The curriculum committee's decision to add world languages and world literature indicates its understanding of the importance of an education that expands beyond our backyard. And as the nation struggles through this recession, it's clear that it's never been more important for our society to have high expectations and standards for education.
The recession also is a good reminder of the importance of financial literacy, another component of the proposed changes. Personal finance becomes more bewildering all the time, and our children should be graduating from high school with an understanding of how to balance a checkbook and avoid credit card debt, for example. That education comes from outside the classroom, as well, but a required personal finance course is a great start.
Finally, the 25-credit requirement could mean a change in attitude for high school seniors. By the second semester senior year, college acceptance letters have arrived and diplomas are practically within reach. Requiring additional meaningful courses will help keep students engaged throughout their high school career, further preparing college-bound students for the coursework they'll encounter and reminding those who plan to enter the work force that their hard work will continue to pay off.
The Steamboat Springs community praises athletic achievements in its youths, and we need to make sure we're always extending that praise to academic achievements.
Students at Steamboat Springs High School get an excellent education from hardworking teachers and staff members. We know that if the new requirements are approved, those teachers will work with students to build a framework that allows them to succeed. Assistant Principal Marty Lamansky said Tuesday that he didn't know what the impacts will be to staffing at the high school, but he expects them to be minimal because most students (an average of 84 percent in the past three graduating classes) already earn at least 25 credits. With such a talented group of caring educators, the district has every reason to proceed with the suggested changes.
To learn more about the proposal or to weigh in, attend a presentation from 6 to 7 tonight at the high school commons area.