Graduation Requirement Changes Fought By Pta

October 27, 1991|By Samuel Goldreich | Samuel Goldreich,Staff writer

The county Parent-Teachers Association has flooded its 1,500 memberswith form letters to send the state Board of Education opposing proposed changes in high school graduation requirements.

The Harford County Council of Parent-Teachers Associations argues the proposal should be opposed on grounds that it is being speeded to adoption without public participation.

The PTA does not plan to testify on the proposal Tuesday in Baltimore, when parents, teachers and students from across Maryland tell the state Board of Education what they think.

The state board will hold its only public hearing Tuesday to invite comment on recommendations that would require students entering senior high in the 1993-1994 school year to complete 75 hours of community service, a fourth year of math and social studies and a year of technology education to win their diplomas.

The board of education tentatively plans a finalvote Nov. 20.

Although the board voted for the proposal at its July meeting, the recommendation was not considered official until it appeared in the Sept. 20 edition of the Maryland Register.

"It sounds to me like the board pretty well knows where it is going with this," said Nancy Eyler, chairwoman of the county PTA's curriculum committee.

William Hughes, a North Bend Elementary School PTA member whowrote the form letter to the state board, said he had 97 copies delivered last week and expected hundreds more to be mailed individually.

"There's not enough information; there's no rationale for what they're doing and the biggest con

cern is there's no description of the impact on curriculum," he said.

But Ron Peiffer, a state school board spokesman, said Tuesday's hearing could delay a final decision on the proposal.

"We certainly are not at all interested in trying to move something like this through without giving the public a chance to respond," he said.

More than 100 groups or individuals have signed up to testify Tuesday and if enough concerns are raised the board could reformulate its graduation proposals and delay a final decision until January, Peiffer said.

PTA concerns were similar to those expressed by the county Board of Education and the Harford County Regional Association of Student Councils.

Under the plan, publicservice would begin in the seventh grade, prompting statewide concern about liability for injuries, transportation and advantages some parents might have in finding prestigious volunteer jobs for their children.

Others have complained that the state board proposal makes no provision for special education students and goes well beyond the plan submitted by its own task force.

County PTA leaders also questioned the definition of technology education and whether it would eliminate courses on home economics and family management.

Much of the state board proposal is geared toward making education more relevant to students' lives after they graduate. The board endorsed community service as a way to gain practical experience and promote better citizenship, and the added math and technology courses are intended to train students for the computerized work place.

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