Michigan Bill Could Drop Health, Gym Class, Algebra II from Graduation Requirements

A bill being considered in Lansing would change graduation requirements for Michigan high schoolers.

State Senator Jon Bumstead from Newaygo sponsored bill 600 that would make required classes like health, physical education, visual arts, foreign language and algebra II optional.

Kingsley Superintendent Dr. Keith Smith has degrees in math and chemistry, but even he agrees not every kid should have to take algebra two to graduate.

“It’s long overdue,” said Dr. Smith.  “I don’t think that every person needs to take algebra II or chemistry or physics to be a successful adult….it’s tough to fit all these credits in.”

Dr. Smith says he’s open to the bill because the classes, even if they were optional, would still be provided to anyone who was interested.

“We’re still going to offer these classes and many of our students are going to take them but it does provide a lot of flexibility for students who are trying to prepare for their life outside of high school,” said Dr. Smith. “When you try to require all of it, you’ve really just locked down it’s a one-size-fits-all approach for schools.”

Some local parents like Kate Gilgallon are concerned, especially since health class would be optional.

“There needs be that information to teach them about safe sex and make sure that they aren’t in high school and have children,” said Gilgallon.

Andrew Waite from the Youth and Wellness Health Center agrees.

“There is an increase in STIs and STDs in adolescents,” said Waite. “Just getting that foundation helps all kids, kids that are going to college, kids that aren’t going to college. All of us need this information.”

Gilgallon is a mother of four and also says the current graduation requirements produce more well-rounded students.

“Keeping it across the board so everyone has to take it that might spark an interest in someone who thought that they might not like art,” said Gilgallon.

The bill is in the Michigan House right now.