Back in March, I penned an essay critical of Michigan tea party legislator Todd Courser’s complete freak out over a bipartisan move to create a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) endorsement for graduating high school students. If students complete six credits each of math and science, a half credit each of technology and engineering, and meet certain other criteria, they would be eligible for a STEM endorsement on their diploma. If the bills that have been introduced are passed into law, Michigan would be the first state to do something like this.
Courser, tossing red meat to his tea party supporters, most of whom are virulently against the implementation of Common Core standards in Michigan, called the legislation “a framework for homeschoolers to be regulated in Michigan” and says that it will “lead to expanded government control over private education”. This is despite the fact that there are specific elements in the legislation ensuring that homeschooled kids can, as long as their parents say they met the criteria, receive the STEM endorsement on their diplomas. There is no requirement that they complete the necessary criteria. But, if they do, they can sport the STEM endorsement on their diplomas.
The red meat was devoured hungrily by the folks who run the website Stop Common Core in Michigan. This group has become completely unhinged on the topic of the STEM diploma endorsement as evidenced by a post published in March titled “STEM diploma debate heats up“, an article Courser called “A Really Important Read!”
According to them, the STEM endorsement creates a “class system” where students who complete the STEM requirements are positioned above those who don’t:
It is unwise to create a “class system” in Michigan which is not supportive of all students. Having a STEM diploma creates a “better” path, leaving the students not on this path to believe they are on the “failure track”. A high school diploma should carry the full credibility of a robust education for all graduates regardless of their preferences of study.
All specific course information is already provided on high school transcripts. Colleges and universities currently use high school transcripts to determine the coursework and student achievement in their determination for entering freshman. In this manner, employers determine the courses appropriate to preparation for their field.
In other words, the academic achievement (or lack thereof) of students is there for all to see. No need to point it out to the prospective college or university admissions officer who might look askance an applicant whose parents didn’t want them getting all that math and science teaching.
In another piece published today titled “STEM Bill Shenanigans“, they turn the crazy up to eleven:
[The STEM credential] sets up a career tracking and pathway system and destroys local control and educational freedom. STEM credentialed diploma is more state control at the expense of local control and true choice in education. It is an essential part of the P-20 “prenatal to workforce” seamless pathway that Governor Snyder and Lt. Governor Calley vigorously promote. This allows the state increasing control of graduation requirements and certification for other career pathways. […]
Don’t know about you, but I find it offensive that our governor and state lawmakers think kids are product or human capital who should be tracked at 12 or 13 years old, into a pre-determined destiny.
Once more, just so we’re all clear here, this diabolical thing that will “destroy local control and educational freedom” and will turn children into “human capital who should be tracked at 12 or 13 years old, into a pre-determined destiny” is a simple endorsement on a kid’s diploma, one they and their parents can decide to work towards or not. They have the ultimate control and the complete freedom to work for it or not.
The most incredible part is that what these anti-Common Core folks are doing is complaining that the endorsement will help some kids (at the expense of others) in getting into a college or university which will, in turn, help them get a good job which is the exact goal of the nefarious “P-20 prenatal to workforce” agenda that they find so evil!
The mind, it boggles.
The argument they are making about the STEM diploma endorsement creating a “class system” reminds me of the Kurt Vonnegut short story Harrison Bergeron, a satirical story that shows just how out of control things can get when we insist that everyone is the same and, if they are not, then we should make them so. In the story, children who are overly smart are fitted with head sets that send loud noises clanging into their brains on regular intervals, preventing them from thinking straight. Athletes and dancers are fitted with weights and hobbles to keep them from excelling physically over their peers. Beautiful children are forced to wear hideous masks to conceal their beauty.
As in the world of Harrison Bergeron, these Common Core opponents want to ensure that no child isn’t left behind. All should be measured by the same yardstick and, if that yard stick isn’t long enough to measure a particular child’s abilities, then that’s just the price of Murkin freedom and liberty.
It’s all a lot of faux outrage over a nonexistant problem, of course. As I wrote in my original essay, the STEM endorsement has no additional requirements on students, whether they are homeschooled or not:
The bills do NOT “require high school students to take six credits of math and six credits of science approved by the Michigan Department of Education” nor will they “lead to centralized control of education.” They simply convey a STEM endorsement onto the diplomas of students that meet the requirements. Period. It’s like getting a “cum laude”, “magna cum laude”, or “summa cum laude” endorsement for getting super high grades.
The only miracle in all of this is that they haven’t blamed it all on Barack Obama.
[CC photo credit: Warfieldian.]