More MMC Changes Debated in House Committee

Bob Kefgen's picture

The Michigan House of Representatives is once again debating changes to the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC). A four-bill package was taken up for testimony this past Tuesday in the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee. Taken together, the bills (HB 4315-18) would make changes to the requirements around algebra II; world language; visual, performing, and applied arts (VPAA); and health.

The Bills

Compared to other efforts to amend the MMC, this package of bills is somewhat less sweeping in scope. Still, it represents yet another potential change in the ongoing saga of proposed MMC amendments. Here is a breakdown of each of the three concepts bing debated:

  • HB 4315-16
    This pair of bills is a reintroduction of an idea that first surfaced last session. Taken together, the bills would eliminate the two credit world language requirement and the one credit VPAA requirement and replace them with a new three credit block which the bills refer to as the 21st Century Skills requirement. Under the bills, students would be able to fulfill the new three credit block with any combination of credits in world language, VPAA, computer science/coding, or through successful completion of a formal Department-approved CTE program.
  • HB 4317
    This bill would allow students who are enrolled in a formal Department-approved CTE program complete 30 hours of MIOSHA workplace safety training relating to general industry or construction to substitute that experience for their .5 credit health education requirement. The bills do not require that the training be of comparable scope or rigor to a semester health course, nor that the training even be applicable to the CTE program that the student is enrolled in.
  • HB 4318
    All students would be given the choice to take either algebra II or statistics for their third math credit under this bill without the need for a personal curriculum. The legislation provides no definition of what a statistics course would have to entail in order to fulfill this requirement.

The Politics and Next Steps

During its first week of debate, the committee heard testimony from the bill sponsors and several industry groups who are supportive of the legislation. Those industry groups included the Associated Builders and Contractors and the Michigan Manufacturers Association, both of which have been generally supportive of previous MMC changes.

Creative Many, an arts and culture advocacy group, was the only testimony in opposition to the bills, though that is not surprising given that very little time was available once the bill sponsors finished their presentations. With the proposed changes affecting math, the arts, world language, and health, representatives of those groups will almost certainly engage in this debate moving forward.

The fact that the bills are being debated in the Workforce and Talent Development Committee rather than the Education Committee combined with the prepared testimony from industry groups signals that the focus of the House is on students' workforce preparedness rather than academic rigor and postsecondary preparedness. This could also mean that the bills may be put on a fast-track as legislators try to position themselves politically going into their two-week Easter break.

Since the Senate has created a special MMC subcommittee with an education focus, this debate is far from over, even if the House reports these bills this week. As always, MASSP will keep tabs on this legislation as it moves forward and will keep members informed.