Illinois Lawmakers Increase Student Requirements

Illinois Lawmakers Increase Student Requirements
By:  Arnold Wyrick
Du Quoin, IL -- In a 104-10 vote Illinois lawmakers raised the bar for graduating seniors for the 2005-2006 school year.  The new legislation requires seniors to complete two years of science, three years of math, and four years of English.  Along with two writing courses, an increase over the former requirements of one year science, two years math, three years English, and no writing courses.
Many school leaders are now asking who is going to pay for this $50.1 million plan over the next three years.
" I think people in the educational arena feel that's going to be another unfunded mandate," says Superintendent Gary Kelly of Unit School District #300 in Du Quoin.
" It also from a student standpoint limit them in what they can take as far as electives.  A lot of students like to look at other avenues to explore, beyond math, science, English, and social studies."
The new requirements would be implemented over a three year period, with the bulk of the costs hitting in the second year in 2006-2007.
" So now you add other requirements on.  Is that going to take away from what we're just able to maintain, as opposed to being able to increase what they're asking us to do," asks Superintendent Kelly.
Meanwhile, as students take the summer off, some had no idea they're class schedules maybe changing from a laid back senior year, to one of cracking books just to graduate.
"It's going to make me have to work harder, to get more years of science in because I've only got one, I think.  And I've only got one year of math.  So I'm going to have to hurry up and get two more years in there," says Zack Davis a Junior at Du Quoin High School.
Either way students and school leaders, along with parents are going to have to deal with the changes the best they can.
" All the other countries, the European countries, and Canada they're schooling is much more involved, then here in America.  So I think that will be a very good thing.  I think that will help them in there attempts at college," says Rosemary Schultz of Du Quoin.
Superintendent Kelly is looking at all aspects of the program, not only the cost to the district in the way of more teachers and books, but also the benefits to students in the end.
"  On the surface many parts of the program is good.  I think we need to make sure that we have a high standards for students.  So that they do perform well, hopefully not only on testing.  But in regards to giving them information they're going to need to be successful later on in life."