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Sat, Feb. 22

Editorial: End ‘social promotion’ in education

The Arizona House gave preliminary approval this past week to legislation that would end “social promotions” in schools and hold students back if they don’t meet required criteria.

HB 2013 would also mandate that high school teachers fail students who don’t meet the course requirements. While failing students is the last thing teachers want to do, students need the strong educational foundation that comes from the certain mastery of “what they need to know to succeed in life,” as Rep. John Fillmore, R-Apache, architect of the legislation, stated.

However, the bill was killed Monday, Feb. 10, on the final roll call in the House.

Opponents said students held back will be more likely to drop out. Fillmore pointed out, though, repeating a grade gives a student “a second opportunity” to build the educational foundation to build their future on, and take responsibility for their education. Teaching students that “there are no easy rides” in education is a life lesson in itself.

Opponents to the bill said a better solution is “fully funded education, giving students everything they possibly need to succeed.”

It is our hope with that funding, all students can be promoted on merit and not on a “social promotion” basis. Mastering basic education, even at the expense of repeating a grade, is critical to students’ long-term success.

The recently released state budget proposal calls for more money for adult education, which is important, but even more important is full funding for primary education. That funding, and the end of “social promotions” are two important factors in giving students the education they need and deserve.

Social promotion “sets kids up for failure,” Rep. Michelle Udall, D-Mesa, said, because they are advancing to a higher level of education without proving that they have mastered the fundamental information needed to succeed at that level.

Rep. Joanne Osborne, R-Goodyear, added that her son, who was held back to improve his reading skills, ended up graduating from Northern Arizona University.

“Social promotion” isn’t doing students any favors; hold them back until they have proven they have learned the material. And, since the bill is down for the count, we hope lawmakers will resurrect it.

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