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January 27, 2011 8:08 am

EDITORIAL: Hathaway curriculum should allow choices

Written by Don Amend

One constant in the business of the Wyoming Legislature has always been concern about the state’s public schools.

This concern has heightened in recent years because the state’s courts have put the responsibility for funding education on the backs of the state Legislature. As a result, the Legislature has become concerned about just what the state is getting for the money it spends in terms of student achievement.

This is commendable, because schools should be accountable for what happens with the money they receive from the state.

However, legislators must make sure that their efforts aren’t counterproductive. That happened in the last session when legislators approved the addition of two years of foreign language to the Hathaway Success Curriculum, a curriculum that students around Wyoming are required to complete in order to attain the highest level of the state’s Hathaway scholarship.

The requirement has had a negative effect on enrollment in vocational, performing and fine arts classes as students moved into foreign language classes to meet the Hathaway requirements. In effect, the law forces the best students into a box where the option to study vocational agriculture or participate in both band and choir is limited, if not eliminated entirely.

Learning a foreign language is a worthwhile goal in today’s world, but mandating it at the expense of other important courses of study as a requirement for a scholarship takes away an important choice students and their parents might find valuable.

Last week, Wyoming’s House of Representatives passed legislation amending the Hathaway curriculum to allow students to substitute vocational courses or fine and performing arts classes for foreign language courses and still qualify for the highest level of the Hathaway scholarship.

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate. We hope senators will concur with the House and restore that choice to Wyoming students and their parents.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link February 17, 2011 9:29 am posted by Hailee Armstrong

    I completely agree with this article, I am a senior and have been working towards the hathaway scholarship for four years. I did not want to take two years of a foreign language for the fact that I wanted to take vocational agriculture classes, which will benefit me and my future far more then a foreign language.

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