NewsLocal News


MORE MATH: Why Oklahoma students graduation requirements changed

classroom school tulsa
Posted at 8:05 AM, May 23, 2024

TULSA, Okla. — As the Class of 2024 picks up its high school diplomas, the Class of 2030 is facing a new set of requirements for theirs.

Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a new law May 15 that adds an extra year of math.

Adding that year of math replaces requirements for foreign language and fine arts. Those classes are still "highly encouraged" and can be taken as electives.

Now that her bill is a law, State Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) told 2 News it’s not a “cookie-cutter approach anymore” to preparing high schoolers for future jobs, specifically the ones they want to pursue.

“But we're going to be flexible with the courses, and with that, math,” she said. “So, even though there is a requirement to add another year, it will be a math course that will be something that is based upon what it is that their end goal is going to be.”

The lawmaker said local school districts can create a curriculum for some of these math concept courses.

An example she gave about flexibility with math courses is: if a student wants to pursue humanities, a class like calculus might not be relevant to them, but they would still need to understand basic financial planning or accounting.

Students must also take six units that are tied to their college or career goals. Classes part of subjects such as history, English, science, and math can fulfill these half-dozen “pathway units”—fine arts, foreign language, and various electives can, too.

These curriculum changes won’t impact current high school students. The first round of students impacted are those starting eighth grade during the 2025-26 school year. Eighth graders taking a math class can count that toward their mandatory high school math credits.

High school students previously fulfilled two units of a non-English language or two units of computer technology, and then one unit of fine arts.

Removing the foreign language and fine arts requirements has upset some people such as Shawna Mott-Wright, the Tulsa Classroom Teacher Association’s president.

Talking to 2 News, she argued these are core classes that create well-rounded people.

“Tulsa without fine arts?” she asked. “Think about Tulsa without people who have had fine arts education. That’s not our Tulsa.”

“If it were not for my speech, drama, and debate teachers, I wouldn’t be where I am,” said Mott-Wright, who’s also a drama teacher. “I have several children who then went on to major in that as well after I was their teacher, and they have gotten jobs they wouldn’t have received otherwise.”

Baker said future workers will encounter lots of equations, no matter the industry, saying, "Everything in our world has evolved so much that computers science, just general math--those are all parts of every career at this point."

Meanwhile, Mott-Wright said languages and arts teach teens skills that math and other subjects can’t—and vice-versa.

Baker, an English major, made a point of highlighting the value of studying the humanities and arts, emphasizing that this law still sees foreign languages and fine arts as important subjects.

“The most important misconception [about HB 3278] is that we are not going to ask students to take a foreign language or a fine arts [class],” the lawmaker told 2 News.

“In this bill,” she also said, “we highly encourage students to take it, and especially encourage those that really will need that.”

Mott-Wright noted that she sees both sides to this law, with one side being that it could free up course credit options for students in school districts that have less access to fine arts education, saying that Tulsa Public Schools is not one of those districts.

“The flipside is that people who would take my classes take them because they want to,” she said.

“But also, I have kids thrown into my class who didn’t want to be in my class who end up becoming some of my greatest actors,” she also mentioned. “They never would’ve known that without exposure.”

Stay in touch with us anytime, anywhere --