The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Education has voted down a measure requiring Oklahoma high school students to take four years of math, science, social studies and English. Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson, a former educator is author of the bill. The former Oklahoma City Teacher of the Year said she was very disappointed with today's vote.
"The soul purpose of a high school education is to assure that every student has the necessary prerequisites to go to college, Career-tech or into the workforce without the need for remediation," explained Senator Wilcoxson.
Senator Wilcoxson said the 4 x 4 curriculum outlined in Senate Bill 1446 would ensure that Oklahoma high school diplomas were an actual indicator of competencies, and not just a certificate of "seat time."
"All the research shows that students need a high school curriculum of rigor. While there is no research to indicate that 4 x 4 is the solution, the research does show that students need more of the areas contained in 4 x 4; possibly even 6 credits," said Wilcoxson, R-OKC.
The lawmaker stressed that contrary to critic's claims that the program is too costly, resources are already available to enable implementation of the curriculum.
"Between requirements for more science and math teachers under House Bill 1017, and long-distance learning capabilities, we can do this. And when you consider that within three years of high school graduation up to 80 percent of those young people will be enrolled in some type of post-secondary education, it is obvious how critical it is that we prepare all our students to the best of our abilities," commented Wilcoxson.
Senator Wilcoxson said SB 1446 allowed for greater flexibility to ensure Career-tech students would be able to take full advantage of both technical and academic offerings.
"Current law already allows Career-techs to integrate science and math into their classes and to offer applied math and science for credit. Now we're adding an additional option allowing them to provide senior level science and math as long as the courses meet the approval of the State Board of Education," noted Wilcoxson.
"In addition there are exemptions from the 4 x 4 curriculum for special education and alternative education students. The legislation also would allow high schools to exempt up to 15 percent of their senior class from 4 x 4, but we would expect it to be much lower than that," said Wilcoxson.
"We must not underestimate the ability of Oklahoma students to learn. If we do, we will undercut their ability to achieve. I firmly believe that this curriculum will better prepare our young people for success in college, Career-tech and in the workforce," said Wilcoxson.
"Today's action is disappointing, because I believe this is something our students and our schools are very capable of doing. But this is an ongoing effort, and I'll continue my effort to increase our curriculum requirements in order to give Oklahoma students the best education possible," said Wilcoxson.