The State Board of Education voted 6-3 Wednesday to approve a proposal to recommend, but not require, school districts to require students to pass all classes to participate in extracurricular activities. The recommendation came for the director of the Department of Education after weeks of discussion over raising the standard that requires students to pass three out of four classes to play. Boardmember Charles Edwards called the new proposal “weak” as did boardmember Greg McClain. McClain has been the leading proponent of raising the standard, and expressed his frustration to the board after the vote.He calls it a “sad day for education,” saying “we are leaders in education and we did not demonstrate our leadership. We have failed Iowa education today.” McClain says the board is bowing to public opinion. He says the board is avoiding controversy and the problems they think raising the bar is going to create, and are sending a loud message it is okay for students with poor grades to participate in activities that’re a privilege. McClain said he couldn’t understand how boardmembers could vote against raising the standard.He calls the vote “asinine” and says he just doesn’t get it. The board had heard from representatives of several school districts when the discussed the issue two months ago. Those representatives said they favored local control, and that’s why boardmember Don Roby says he supported the new proposal. He says the move sends a message that they trust the people making the decisions at the local level. Roby says the people who’re closest to the kids are better able to make the decisions than the state board. Roby disputed McClain’s statement that they’d done the wrong thing. He says it’s a good day, not a bad day. Under the proposal the board will encourage local districts to require students to pass all their courses, but school districts that have a lower standard are not required to increase it.
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