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Utah State Senator Proposes Making 12th Grade Optional

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the all-I-really-need-to-know-I-learned-by-11th-grade dept.

Education 15

State Sen. Chris Buttars has a great idea to cut Utah's $700 million deficit, make senior year optional. The senator told the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee that many students just waste time during their senior year and that getting rid of it would save $102 million. "You're spending a whole lot of money for a whole bunch of kids who aren't getting anything out of that grade," he said. "It comes down to the best use of money."

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15 comments

Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31174262)

Honestly, he's got a certain amount of merit behind his arguments. Students in the 12th grade often suffer from senioritis and gain nothing from their experience.

To just make the senior year completely optional, though, is absurd to me. Give them a real reason to be there. Give them classes that will actually help them out. I'd keep arguing that they should invest in their future and reap the rewards, but, unfortunately I think we've reached an age where there's perverse incentive for many states to keep their populace stupid. In my home state, we suffer from an extreme amount of brain drain, and I assume that Utah suffers from a similar problem. If they educate their citizens, they become more likely to leave and the states lose out, not only on their best and brightest, but on the investment that they've placed in them as well.

I've argued for some time that states should offer free schooling in exchange for a contract that stipulates that the student will work in the state for x number of years or else they have to pay back the entire cost of schooling plus interest. If done properly, this could pay for itself over time, given the increase in value of the worker subsequently leading to an increase in tax revenue. Also, if the timeframe is sufficiently long, 5-10 years, many people would stay in the state beyond the required time because they would have started families. There's probably a hole in that somewhere, but it seems like a good place to start the discussion.

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31175714)

The first hole in your plan is this: At what age would people be expected to sign such a contract? At 5, when they enter kindergarten? Maybe at 14 or 15, when they start high school? What court would force a 19-year-old to abide by an agreement they signed when they were 5, or 15?

That said, here's a close substitute: States typically underwrite about half the cost of attending a state college; instead, give students entering college an option similar to what you proposed -- the state will help pay for your education (at an in-state college) in exchange for you staying in the state for X years.

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31176042)

The hole is that the value of the worker is more scrutinized when the taxpayer is the employer. Essentially the state (taxpayer's taxes) has to pay for both higher education and all these employee's new salaries. So either higher education becomes owned by the state or salaries plummit or both. Theoretically the state would then have an endless supply of super-motivated folks who just got a free ride to party through college since they know they either have a low-paying, entry-level state job waiting for them with open ball and chains.

I agree with your assessment that the importance we place on public education is laughable - and that's sad. What you suggest sounds a lot like the military, actually. Sign up for 4 or 6 years and the Fed clothes you, feeds you, pays you, and offers you lots of educational opportunities if you can avoid the "sandy vacations" that you may get assigned. As a product of that system, I know it is truly what you make of it - if motivated you can make off like a bandit and get on with your life after you do your time. But in a vast VAST majority of the cases people get accustomed to performing asinine tasks as long as the money comes in on the 1st and 15th like clockwork.

Sorry to get on a soapbox there, but we really need to become the people that once realized we can do more by WORKING to be the best at whatever we do instead of demanding our share of the excess. That goes a great deal toward academia. Fostering academic competitiveness is the only way the US or any state can become more academically competitive.

Ok really I'm done!

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31178020)

Speaking as someone from Utah, I understand your basic argument but trust me when I say this is another in a long list of douchebaggery from a guy who has proven himself to be an ignorant, racist, prejudiced, puppet-of-the-Mormon-church at every single turn.

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

teknosapien (1012209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31178936)

Students in the 12th grade often suffer from senioritis and gain nothing from their experience.
Really because my daughter is a senior this year and taking all Advanced AP Courses that count as College credit for most of the colleges in our area. As for the work for education both Norway and Germany have great systems Military or Community service for a year or 2 ( forget which) but that covers the cost of college

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

jayme0227 (1558821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31189272)

First, note the word "often." I'm definitely not saying that every single student in their senior year is lazy, but there are definitely enough that my statement is still true.

I also took AP classes in high school. The first half of my day I spent in AP US History, AP Calculus, and AP English Lit. Then, after lunch, I skipped the rest of my classes and went home. It was a joke. I'm quite certain that I would have benefited far more from a year in college in which would have gained 25 credits towards graduation instead of a year in high school where I gained 13 college credits and got my seat time in.

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

mentil (1748130) | more than 4 years ago | (#31181346)

Senioritis is caused by senior year grades not being seen by colleges students apply to. Skipping senior year and applying to college junior year would lead to junioritis. A wise idea would be to replace the normal classes seniors take with classes that can only be taken as a senior, classes that are interesting and apply to real life, such as those mysteriously vanishing civics classes. This measure would be doomed to fail anywhere that education is considered important, and where politicians use 'improving education' as part of their platform, as it creates an obvious slippery slope issue: why stop at cutting 12th grade, why not cut 11th? Why not privatize schooling completely? I worked with someone who didn't go to high school because her parents wouldn't pay the already subsidized price. If parents had to pay full price, how many would say 'screw it, my kids get to compete for jobs with robots and 3rd world laborers'?

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185672)

Exactly what I was going to post.

If they want to cut down on 4 years in HS cost (which is silly in its own right) talk about condensing the curriculum into 3 years instead of just cutting that last year of much needed school out.

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184266)

Yeah, switch senioritis with junioritis. Brilliant.

It's also not consistent with its own logic... (1)

beh (4759) | more than 4 years ago | (#31185302)

They could probably make any grade after the 2nd optional, really... ...you don't really need much more than very basic addition/subtraction skills and very limited literacy to utter 'You want fries with that?'...

All the rest of the education is simply wasted on kids who end up working for fast food joints or similarly low-skilled employment...

Just imagine how much money it would save the education board, and picture how much less fast food joints could pay their even younger 'operators'.

Seriously, it's an interesting question on whether to make the senior year optional or not - and I don't know the US educational system well enough to say, but here in Europe we already have secondary education with differing 'final' years, depending on whether you want to go on studying or not. (In Germany, the 'lowest' form of secondary school also makes the 10th year optional)...

Re:Bad approach with interesting logic (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 4 years ago | (#31186510)

Students in the 12th grade often suffer from senioritis and gain nothing from their experience.

So if we make the senior year optional, those students who decide early on that they are going to opt out just have "junioritis" instead. The key is people giving up on school. I agree with the rest of your post, we need to make school interesting and compelling all the way through the educational process. But there really is no logic in dropping a year simply to avoid last-year apathy, because the apathy will simply move to whatever the last year is for those students who have given up.

I heard on NPR this morning there are a few states (mine among them) who are looking at experimenting with a "board exam" graduation method similar to what is used in India and other countries.

Based on what I heard, board exams would start at the 10th grade. Once you pass the boards you can graduate immediately with a valid high school diploma that allows you to go to trade school or community college, or just start working at a trade. If you don't pass the boards, the state will keep you in high school for up to two more years, and readminister the boards in the 11th and 12th grades. Pass = graduate immediately with a high school diploma.

Then the focus (for those not intending to go on to 4-year school) is "if you want to get out of school early, work hard and pass the boards" - those who are eager to go on to community college or a trade school (or just start working) can do so early, but they'll be leaving with a diploma and demonstrated knowledge rather than dropping out.

Anyone who passes the boards also has the option of staying in school and taking advanced placement classes for a shot at 4-year college if they choose to.

So the kids who pass the boards and don't want to go off to a 4-year school get a 2-year head start and save the school money. In most schools, this probably means that 1/3 to 1/2 the student body graduates 2 years early.

Those remaining in school follow one of two tracks:

1. The kids who pass and want to go to college continue on in AP classes. These can be standardized AP curriculum classes like we have today, so there's no additional expense involved.

2. The kids who don't pass continue on a path toward passing. Since a good number of kids have left the school, this can be more focused class time with fewer kids per class. Many will pass in 11th grade, meaning the kids left in 12th are the ones who really need help, but there aren't as many of them left so the teachers can really have the time to focus on them and get most of them passing the boards.

Quite an arbitrary threshold. (1)

junglebeast (1497399) | more than 4 years ago | (#31178136)

Senior year is no less beneficial than the years before it.

In fact, education has exponential rewards as a function of time invested. I'm a 4th year graduate student and without a doubt, I have learned more in each year than I learned in the year before it, going back as far as I can remember. This is because I don't just learn facts -- I learn how to learn faster. On top of that, I learn a lot of facts as well...and on top of that, the more facts you know, the more you can put new facts into perspective.

Anyone who thinks they have finished learning by 11th graduate (a stupidly arbitrary threshold if I may say so) probably hasn't done much learning to speak of...

My point is not that 12th grade is important for everyone. Some people will go on to be janitors or other members of blue collar society where it is not necessary to read, write, etc....and that's perfectly fine. But if that's FINE as far as the state is concerned, then there's no reason to make the first 3 years mandatory either. In fact, I like the idea of school being entirely optional.

Well, there is just one caveat -- if school is entirely optional than we may need to make suffrage a privilige rather than an inalienable right. This would be necessary to avoid all the uneducated idiot masses from voting the next GW into office without any clue of what they are voting for.

We eliminated grade 12 decades ago. (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31184434)

We replaced it with a province-wide college scheme that works like this:

You either take a 2-year pre-university series (and university is shaved from 4 years to 3), or you take a 3-year technical program, such as nursing, etc., that leads directly to the job market.

The idea was that 30% of students would be in the pre-uni stream and 70% would be in the jobs stream. It worked out the exact opposite - 70% take pre-uni.

Since college is both free and optional, only those who want to be there go, so it cuts down on wasting taxpayer funds. It also means you have a more homogeneous student population, so you can deal with them as adults and expect them to behave as adults.

Besides, Utah would only use grade 12 to push more "creation science" anyways.

Then, juniorithsis! (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#31178884)

Then, students will slack off in their junior year. Why not just graduate when finish all requirements? :P

Salt Lake City Cartoonists... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31184224)

have an easy job! This stuff writes itself.
Pat Bagley's Take [sltrib.com]

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