Yesterday the Colorado Commission on Higher Education (CCHE) raised admission standards for the state’s public colleges and universities, effective in 2010. The final set of standards is less rigorous than originally planned, with no increase in the one-year foreign language requirement and the allowance of a watered-down math course to fulfill the requirement.
Still, some weren’t satisfied – among them one who believes charter school supporters have a “special” reservation in the torrid nether regions.
Other opponents worry that creating more emphasis on taking math and science will stifle student creativity. State Representative Mike Merrifield, who is also the chairman of the House Education Committee, told the Commission these new requirements are 20th Century ideas being imposed on 21st Century students.
“I urge you to seriously consider increasing the arts requirements for admission rather than math, science and foreign language,” said Rep. Merrifield (D-Manitou Springs). “Join other forward, cutting-edge leaders in curriculum development.”
I have nothing at all against music and the arts: if you would think that, you certainly don’t know me. But the music teacher who was chairman of the House Education Committee – and whom the Democrat leadership will allow to serve in that role again in 2008 (despite his visceral hatred for many families who decide to leave the traditional public school) – thinks expectations for greater math and science proficiency are relics of the last century.
I’m not being fair, you say? Perhaps Merrifield just wants to leave local control intact. Well, not only did he and his committee earlier this year mandate more liberal sex education standards while spurning efforts to raise standards for reading, math, and science, his self-contradicting remarks in the Denver Post betray his real views:
State Rep. Michael Merrifield, a Colorado Springs Democrat who chairs the House Education Committee, called the whole notion of course requirements “out of date, old-fashioned,” and “so 20th century.” “Forcing every student into a curriculum of more math and science is not relevant to most students’ lives,” said Merrifield, a former music teacher who believes the state instead should increase the fine arts requirements for graduation.
One of the teachers union’s favorite lawmakers quickly demonstrated how out of touch he is with parents, business leaders, and other Coloradans. Is relevance to students’ lives the standard we should set for education? Some don’t like math and science, many don’t see the use of learning history or geography, and some might not see the need to read or write English (or to read and write at all). Some students might not see the arts as relevant to their lives, either, but I doubt Merrifield would accept that rationale.
If the Democrats want to be taken seriously in the area of education, they might want to find someone more credible and reasonable to chair the House Education Committee.