By Curt Finch MOISD Superintendent

The last 10 years in Michigan have been a roller coaster ride when working on educational reform.

We’ve witnessed a major push from the media, universities, governors and legislators that “everyone must go to college,” and this push began to impact career center attendance throughout the state. As you know, this sounds good on paper, but runs into difficulty when reaching all students. Students need the “light bulb” to come on before they decide what they would like to do in life; if the adults guide students towards a limited number of career options, the probability of dropping out of school rises.

Once a student finds an interest worth pursuing for a career and a purpose in life, their energy and focus on completion increases significantly.

The Michigan Merit Curriculum was initially designed to direct students towards higher education at the university level. Efforts by educators and parents over the past three years have moved legislators towards thinking that college and career ready is the right balance. While this was a step in the right direction, the Michigan Merit Curriculum didn’t change to reflect that shift, until recently. The good news is that our northern Michigan legislators, Joel Johnson, Bruce Rendon, Phil Potvin and Darwin Booher, were all very instrumental in getting the necessary changes to allow all students more opportunities at the career center. More flexibility was added for the foreign language requirement, career and technical education connections, and more agri-science options.

Being a legislator is not an easy job, as everyone has their own ideas on what should be done and how it can be accomplished. With these recent moves by our legislators to add flexibility to the Michigan Merit Curriculum, our students now can have many options for their future. If academia is a part of their adventure at this time, then great. If trade schools, the workforce, and/or the military are this part of the journey, then we as adults must make that available. Many thanks to our legislators for working together to find a more flexible path for our students while maintaining a focused balance on academic excellence; because of their work I believe we are now on the right track. We appreciate their tireless efforts to get this through in opposition to our southern legislators.

Dr. Finch can be reached at cfinch@moisd.org and followed on Twitter @CFinchMOISD