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Rethink plan on school mandates

Regardless of your political leanings, if you are a reasonably thoughtful, educated person it must be clear to you that many voters are not. They lack understanding of our nation and our world, both now and in the past.

It makes no sense at all, then, for state officials to relax requirements for social studies classes in West Virginia’s public high schools. They are considering just that.

Of course, the bureaucrats at the state Department of Education make it all sound appealing. Their website declares the state Board of Education is considering policy changes “to personalize graduation requirements” for high school students.

Who can argue with that? Tailoring education offerings to students’ individual needs and desires sounds like a good idea.

But state officials recognize a certain amount of inflexibility is required. Why else do they plan to stick with a requirement that 10 of the 22 credits needed to graduate from high school will be specified by the state. The 10 must include two mathematics credits, two English credits, two science credits, two social studies credits and one each in health and physical education. That seems minimal in terms of the basics every high school graduate needs.

It is in options for fulfilling the social studies credit requirement that a change being considered by the state board is not desirable.

According to published reports, new regulations would eliminate a requirement that high school graduates have taken a world history class. It will be optional, perhaps even for individual schools.

In addition, the amount of exposure required to U.S. history may be reduced.

Giving high school students the flexibility to take courses linked to their career aspirations is a good idea. But if that is permitted at the expense of education everyone needs, it is not such a good plan. State officials should consider that they may be about to “personalize” high school graduates out of well-rounded educations.

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