Changes made to language requirement

by Conor Ryan

A mistake in the school code, which required current seniors to have completed two years of a foreign language in order to graduate this May, was recently rectified by the Michigan Legislature.

The law only was intended to apply to the class of 2016 and on and would have adversely affected this year’s graduating class.  Now that the law has been changed, the class of 2015 only needs one year, or one credit, of a foreign language to get their diploma.

In addition, due to a bill passed this January in the Michigan State House of Representatives, certain non-language classes at Seaholm may now fulfill a year of students’ foreign language requirements.

The Representatives revised how the language requirement itself could be fulfilled. Under the Michigan Merit Curriculum that Seaholm currently follows, a student cannot graduate without completing two years of a foreign language.

The new requirement allows for flexibility.

“The classes that may now take place of a year of a language include career and technical education, or arts instruction beyond that required by the Merit curriculum for all students,” counselor Walt Romano said.

Currently, the full list of acceptable classes is only available to administration.

“There is a long list of what’s available,” Romano said.

The bill doesn’t eliminate the language requirement, but it allows for the potential of substitutes. For example, after meeting their fine arts requirement, if students were to take an additional art class, they could fulfill one year of their foreign language requirement.  This opportunity is available to all students right now.

“Students don’t really know about it [the option],’’ Romano said.

Last year, student also got the opportunity to take American Sign Language or ASL online as another alternative to a foreign language. The class would fulfill the foreign language requirement and would also take the place of one of students’ five classes.

While opportunities are currently available, the actual process of substituting a class for a year of a language is unclear.

“Currently [we are] not sure of what the Birmingham Public school district will allow [to be a substitute] because the district can be stricter than the state,’’ Romano said. “[The process] is very complicated.”

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