For most teens, high school is meant to serve as preparation for the next step in their lives, often college or technical school. Florida, ever the pioneering state, is trying to take this planning and preparation to the next level. The state House of Representatives is looking at a plan proposed by Gov. Jeb Bush requiring all incoming high school freshmen to declare a major.
Champions of the plan believe it will invigorate students’ desire to learn and keep them in school. Opponents worry that students will be cheated out of having a well-rounded liberal arts education. They also believe the amount of counseling for students will need to increase substantially, as high schoolers may change their minds and their majors.
This initiative has its heart in the right place – then again, so does the FCAT teacher bonus initiative. But what is needed for this plan to be a success rather than a misguided folly is for the state government to put its money where its plan is.
According to Gov. Bush and Lt. Governor Toni Jennings’ Policy and Budget Recommendations – also known as Florida’s e-Budget – the projected funding for the 2006-07 fiscal year has $357.2 billion going toward “teacher recruitment, retention and support.”
Every penny of this and more will be needed if this new initiative should pass. Engineering is a proposed major in this program, for example. If students are to take classes required in the major, there will be a need for teachers who can lead higher-level classes. Other fields, such as math and literature, will need qualified teachers at a level suitable to the needs of students in each respective major to provide an intensive learning experience.
Even though it may seem daunting to a high school student to choose a major while their body and mind are changing so much, students are not locked down to the major they initially choose. Under the program, students are not penalized for changing majors, as college students are. As long as the students have twenty-four credits, they are able to graduate
Today’s students are much like students of the past, wondering how algebra is really going to benefit them in “the real world” if they want to have a career as a college professor in literature. This program could give students insight into their future careers the chance to find out what they like and dislike. Through specialization in high school, students may not only stay in school but may actually take an active interest in learning.