What the original law says:
(2) In addition to the requirements under subsection (1), beginning with pupils entering grade 3 in 2006, the board of a school district or board of directors of a public school academy shall not award a high school diploma to a pupil unless the pupil has successfully completed during grades 9 to 12 at least 2 credits, as determined by the department, in a language other than English, or the pupil has successfully completed at any time during grades K to 12 course work or other learning experiences that are substantially equivalent to 2 credits in a language other than English, based on guidelines developed by the department. For the purposes of this subsection, all of the following apply:
(a) American sign language is considered to be a language other than English.
(b) The pupil may meet all or part of this requirement with online course work.
What the original law means:
Students cannot get a high school diploma unless they complete 2 credits of a language other than English.
a) ASL counts as a language other than English.
b) Students can meet the above requirement through online classes.
What the proposed bills say:
Languages other than English are encouraged, but optional. Other resources can be provided in place of actual language instruction.
Classes in languages other than English (including ASL) are not required to obtain a diploma.
These bills remove the high school graduation requirements for world languages, including ASL!
Why is this important?
- Increasing language proficiency opens more opportunities in secondary and post secondary study
- Language study enhances problem-solving and critical thinking skills
- The skills required in learning a language transfer to other academic subjects and improved performance in those subjects
- Skills in languages other than English make those not bound for postsecondary study more attractive employment candidates in a wide range of careers where communicating with diverse customers is necessary
- Good language achievement enhances a student’s college prospects and opens paths for a wider range of college-level fields of study
By dropping the requirement in favor of other credits, students may miss out on learning ASL and other world languages!
“[ASL] is a live, contemporaneous, visual-gestural language and consists of hand shapes, hand positioning, facial expressions, and body movements. Simply put, it is for me the most beautiful, immediate, and expressive of languages, because it incorporates the entire human body.” –Myron Uhlberg
To contact Michigan state senators: www.senate.michigan.gov/
To contact Michigan state representatives: www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/
ASL for America – ASLfor.US - email@example.com
Photo by Philip Hofmeister – Wikimedia Commons