Graduation bill draws praise

By Christina Calloway

PNT senior writer

Local superintendents are calling the passing of two state Senate bills that affect local high schools a victory for public education.

The Senate approved a bill Saturday on a 28-0 vote that would prevent the Public Education Department from changing high school graduation requirements of students once they begin the ninth grade.

“I support that completely and it only makes sense,” said Portales Schools Superintendent Johnnie Cain. “It’s almost like a contract. Those should be the rules until you graduate; that law only makes sense.”

Clovis schools Superintendent Terry Myers agreed that a student’s graduation plan should be safe from change once they begin high school.

“They actually have a grad plan that’s filled out and you can’t change the game on them midstream,” Myers said.

Myers said this kind of protection worked while he was an administrator in Texas.

“(Students) need to know what it is they need to graduate when they enter the ninth grade,” he said.

School districts across the state had their own struggles recently with graduation requirements.

Portales recently passed a resolution that allows students who do not pass the state-issued Standards-Based Assessment or End of Course exams in a subject to still graduate by proving competency through alternatives.

Another bill that recently passed in the Senate broadens the options students have to meet their PE requirements, including the activities of cheerleading, marching band and other activities that meet state performance standards.

“Those are very good things for pubic education, public education needs that kind of flexibility,” said Myers. “We need that local control.”

Myers said he sees the beauty in being able to substitute physical activities for a PE class because it allows students to become better well-rounded.

“Music education is one of the finest things our kids can take,” Myers said.

He added research proves that students perform better academically when they play music.

“Football and athletics are also great for kids,” Myers said. “Not only does it exercise their body, it exercises mind. It gives them that competitive edge and spirit.”

Cain said he’s seen his students keep busy schedules and feels students will benefit from using their activities as a credit.

“I think this will help them a lot,” Cain said.

Both bills are headed to the House. The legislative session ends Thursday.

“We are very pleased that are Senate passed this and we hope the House follows suit,” Myers said.

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