N.M. Democrat’s answer to dismal high school graduation rate? Just lower standards!

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A Democratic state lawmaker in New Mexico has found the answer for the state’s perpetual struggle to graduate its students from high school: just slash the requirements considerably.

The legislator advancing this novel policy is Rep. Mimi Stewart, a Democrat from Albuquerque, reports local CBS affiliate KRQE.

Her bill, HB 66, would establish two separate diplomas. The current diploma would become a diploma of excellence. There would also be a new diploma called a “general diploma” that would just be a lot easier to obtain.

The idea, it seems, is that students who can’t meet the state’s current standards will perhaps be able to meet the new, dumbed-down general-diploma standards. And then, voila! Better graduation rates.

Statistics show that only about 70 percent of New Mexico’s students graduate high school in four years. The state ranks 48th in the country in terms of students graduating.

Under the current standards (which would become standards of excellence), students must complete four years of math. Under Stewart’s bill, students choosing the new path of less resistance would need only three years of math.

HB 66 would also require fewer lab-related science courses.

The bill, which if passed would go into effect immediately, would also allow students to graduate without passing a standardized test (or meeting other standards that show there’s no need for them to take the standardized test). The Democratic legislator would allow school districts to ignore the standardized test standard.

The New Mexico Public Education Department criticized the bill.

“Any attempt to lower standards for students is cause for concern,” a spokesperson said, according to KRQE. “Today, too many of our high school graduates require remedial courses once in college so lower standards will not help.”

Stewart noted that as recently as two years ago, students were allowed to graduate with only three years of math.

In recent months, education policy has been a very hot topic in The Land of Enchantment thanks to a complex new teacher appraisal scheme. The president of the Albuquerque Teacher’s Federation has called the system, which links teacher performance to student performance, “draconian.” There has also been talk of a statewide teachers strike. (RELATED: New Mexico teachers mull strike over evaluation linked to actual, objective criteria)

In addition to the challenges New Mexico faces graduating high school students, it’s also one of the states with the easiest bar exams for budding attorneys. (RELATED: The 10 states with the easiest bar exams)

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