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Zais wants high school courses changed to reflect 'real world' education needs

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The Superintendent of South Carolina schools is seeking change in how high school students in the state are taught, The Washington Times reported March 8.

Mick Zais, Republican superintendent, announced in December that he doesn't plan to seek a second term. He wants to go out doing something that will help students in South Carolina to get ahead in the real world. His plan will primarily affect students who don't plan to pursue college after graduating from high school.

South Carolina schools currently have studies in the reverse order of what could help graduating students who want to begin working without a college education. Students are forced to take four years of English literature and a math sequence of algebra I, geometry, algebra II and pre-calculus.

Personal finance and teaching high school students to analyze and apply what they read, also known as business writing, should be top priority for students who don't plan on attending a two or four year college.

Zais stated to the Washington Times

“Let’s give high school students more control over their curriculum and stop the pretense that every child can and should pursue a four-year college preparatory curriculum. But we force kids to take those courses, so should we be surprised that many of them are disinterested, disengaged and far too often discipline problems because in their minds, what they’re being forced to learn is not relevant to their future."

Other educators disagree, and believe South Carolina needs to push a college education on more high school students. According to a report by Competing Through Knowledge, the state will need 44,000 more workers with a two-year degree, as well as 70,000 more workers with a four-year degree by 2030,

Now Zais has to gain approval from the state Board of Education or state Legislature for the change in course priority to happen.

Although Barry Bolen, Board Chairman doesn't agree with Zais, he does believe courses need to be better tailored to the individual student.

To give high school students life skills, in other words teaching them things they'll need to know to survive in the business world, will in the end create a more productive student.

Since students will no longer be subjected to hours of courses that will have no bearing on their chosen path, perhaps the desire to take more goal-oriented courses that will earn them a two or four year degree will make a better student.

What do you think? Should students be allowed to take more high school courses that will help them in the real world, or should the state continue to force courses that don't interest the student and will benefit no one?

Your comments are welcome.

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