March 24, 2013

Michigan May Drop Foreign Language Rule for Schools


Michigan may drop foreign language rule for schools
By Shawn D. Lewis
March 18, 2103

Foreign language studies could be de-emphasized statewide by a bill that would drop it as a high school graduation requirement.

Politicians say the change would offer more flexibility for students who plan to bypass college for a technical career.

Currently, students must take a foreign language in grades 9-12 to graduate. Starting with students who entered third grade in 2006, foreign language study in grades K-8 counts too.

The bill is in the House Education Committee, which plans to consider it this spring, said its chairwoman, state Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto.

Sponsored by state Rep. Phil Potvin, R-Cadillac, the bill would allow students to meet the Algebra 2 and foreign language requirements by including computer science as an alternative.

The Michigan Department of Education opposes the bill.

"Students, regardless of post-secondary plans, will benefit tremendously with at least one additional language to be competitive in the global marketplace," spokesman Martin Ackley said. "World languages is essential for all of our students."

John Moore, an associate professor of economics at Walsh College, said he believes changing the law could affect the state's global competitiveness.

"Our area is home to a diverse spectrum of ethnic communities," he said. "Foreign companies doing business in the United States would be wise to consider our area for establishing their American presence. Obviously, foreign language skills would be an important consideration for these potential employers."

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