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Board Puts Geography In Its Place Three Courses No Longer Will Be Required For Graduation At Coeur D’Alene High Schools

High school students in Coeur d’Alene won’t be required to take world geography, reading or keyboarding to graduate.

But they’ll have to take two more credits of something.

Under graduation requirements approved by the school board Monday night, students must take 44 credits instead of the current 42 to graduate.

World geography now is an elective, although its core concepts will be added into other curricula. Reading now is an elective except for those students requiring remedial instruction, and only one physical education credit is required now instead of two.

The board also decided that keyboarding should not be included in the one credit of required computer-based instruction.

Until school officials can create a new set of graduation standards, the board voted to keep its current policy that requires students to maintain at least a C average in the core subjects of math, English and speech to graduate.

But some parents worried about making changes in requirements before the curriculum is complete.

“We are making a change in requirements before we change the curriculum. By throwing out world geography, we have not adjusted the curriculum,” Simone Kincaid said. “I’m concerned we’re going to dilute history with world geography. Don’t put the cart before the horse.”

The Graduation Requirements Committee had toned down its proposal since last month after being widely criticized for suggesting world history be made an elective - not a required - course.

The board also was set to vote on a controversial one-year block-scheduling pilot program for Lake City High School. Critics fear the move will “dumb down” curriculum by reducing instruction time 15 hours per academic subject each semester.

But Lake City Assistant Principal Tom Mollgaard presented a survey conducted last week that found that more than half of the parents of eighth through 11th graders support block scheduling.

Of 132 parents surveyed, 51 percent supported the proposal, 11.3 percent opposed it and 32.6 percent had no preference.

“Our core courses will remain identical,” Mollgaard said. “We will not be removing any required courses. We will be adding some elective courses. We’re not dumbing down curriculum.”

Under the block scheduling program, students will take four, 88-minute classes each day and will switch to their other four courses on opposite days. Teachers favor block scheduling because it will increase the amount of time students spend in some classes.

However, block scheduling decreases instruction time per semester from 82.5 hours to 67.5 hours and opponents worry the loss of 15 hours will hamper learning.

Robert Singletary, who has been a teacher for 40 years, called the proposal an “education fashion show.”

“We go through trends almost yearly,” Singletary said. “We’re placing so much emphasis on methods and models that we’re really ignoring the basics.”

, DataTimes