High school graduation credits restructured Baltimore County makes moves in gym, social studies

December 04, 1992|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,Staff Writer

After several months of debate, the Baltimore County school board last night adopted high school graduation requirements that exceed state standards in social studies and physical education but are lower than current county requirements.

The vote was 5-3.

The majority was concerned that students would not get all the lessons they need to become good citizens if the social studies requirement was lowered. They also felt that students would not get enough exercise and would not get in the habit of healthy exercise with a lowered physical education requirement.

Superintendent of Schools Stuart Berger and his staff had recommended that the board bring the county in line with the Maryland State High School Graduation Requirements adopted last spring.

That would have meant reducing the county's social studies requirement from four credits to three and the physical education requirement from one and a half credits to a half-credit.

Instead, after a tangled process,the majority of the board members sought a middle ground between the state and county requirements and approved a minimum of three and a half credits in social studies and one credit in gym.

"I think it's a compromise that the principals can live with," said Catonsville High School principal Donald Mohler, who had presented the proposed requirements to the board on behalf of the Secondary School Administrators' Association.

The new requirements, which become effective with students entering ninth grade in September, also increase the science credits from two to three and the overall credits needed to graduate from 20 to 22.

Other changes include:

* Requiring one credit in technology education rather than the "practical arts" of traditional home economics, industrial arts and business courses.

* Giving students a choice of two foreign language credits or two advanced technology credits or four credits in career and technical education, plus one elective.

* Specifying that the three and a half credits in social studies include the one-semester course in Constitution, Citizenship and Public Issues.

Strong support for this government course caused Dr. Berger to make the additional half-credit in social studies part of his recommendation, though he had originally supported only three

credits.

It was the physical education credit, however, that threatened to put a stranglehold on the final decision last night.

"I certainly don't agree with going to a half-credit; it's too little," said board member Duncan Brooks, in amending the state requirement. "You have to maintain a sound body as well as a sound mind."

Student board member Kirsten Smith said, however, "I don't see any correlation between physical education and physical fitness. Students are limited by having to fit in a class many students think is a joke."

And board member Hilda Hillman, who also supported the minimum requirement, argued that "the more restrictive we make our requirements, the more we tie the hands of our administrators."

RF "I believe children have to be exposed to physical education for a

longer time," said board member Calvin Disney. "My point is I don't think we should move precipitously . . . to diminish the physical education program."

Dr. Berger had urged the board, if it increased the gym requirement above the state minimum, to take a stand against waivers. Granting waivers is an informal policy of each principal in which students get out of taking gym for one reason or another, usually because they want to take an academic course.

"I think that whatever you decide, there should be no waivers," he said.

Requirements

As of September 1993, ninth-graders face these high school graduation requirement changes:

Social studies: Reduced from 4 to 3 1/2 credits.

Physical Education: Reduced from 1 1/2 credits over three years to 1 credit with no time requirement.

Science: Increased from 2 to 3 credits.

Credits for graduation: In- creased from 20 to 22 credits, plus 75 ++ hours of state- mandated student service.

Also: Two foreign language credits and 2 advanced tech- nology credits or 4 career and technology credits.

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