Should Economics be a required high school course?

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Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter

After an impassioned plea by a Yerington High School teacher, the Lyon County School District Board of Trustees tentatively agreed Tuesday night to keep Economics as a required course for high school graduation.

The Board will make a final decision at its July meeting, when it considers the second reading of a proposed revision to its graduation requirements policy.

The Trustees voted 5-1, with one member absent, to approve proposed revisions to the graduation policy, but with the change of keeping Economics as a required one-semester course.

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The proposed revisions would have eliminated Economics as a graduation requirement, and instead made the course an elective.

The proposed revisions to the graduation requirements are due to recent changes from the High School Proficiency Exams requirements to the End of Course exams.

The proposed revisions state that to receive a diploma from a Lyon County high school, a student must successfully past the Nevada End of Course exams and take the college and career readiness assessment as required by Nevada Revised Statutes.

The revision would have changed the requirement from one credit of Government, U.S. History and .5 credits each of Economics and a social studies elective – either World History or World Geography – to 3 total social studies. It would have made a student’s choice of either World History or Geography a requirement, while dropping the Economics requirement.

Under that proposal, much of the Economics content and activities would have been covered in students’ advisory class, American History and American Government courses.

No other school district in Nevada requires Economics as a graduation requirement.

However, Yerington High Economics teacher Gerry Boschert argued that Economics teaches students life skills that are more important than courses designed to form to standardized tests.

“A lot of our kids aren’t going to go on to college, but they’re going to go on to be citizens, pay taxes and vote,” Boschert said.  “I see real value in what I’m teaching kids.”

He argued that if the class were an elective, few students would take Economics.

“The idea that it can be taught in an advisory class once or twice a week by a non-social studies teacher, that’s not going to work,” Boschert said.

He also pointed out Nevada’s low ranking nationwide in many educational categories, and test scores.

“Not doing what the rest of the state of Nevada is doing might just be a good idea,” Boschert said.

John Stevens was one of the Trustees to agree with Boschert.

“I fear changing the education system to teach kids to pass a test and not educate kids,” Stevens said.

Because no other district requires Economics credits, Trustee Charles Shirley said the district would need some provision so that students who move into the district during their senior year would not be prevented from graduating because they hadn’t taken an Economics Course. At the suggestion of Superintendent Wayne Workman, Stevens made it a part of his motion to exempt students who transfer to a Lyon County high school during the second semester of their senior year.

Trustee Donald Parsons had proposed a motion to approve the revised policy as presented, but that motion was defeated with Parsons in favor and five others opposed.

Stevens then proposed a motion to approve the revised policy with an amendment to keep Economics as a required course, and with the exemption for senior transfers. That motion passed 5-1, with Parsons opposed.

The proposed policy revisions now must come back before the board for a second reading, where they can be approved or amended and brought back for a third reading.

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