Going backwards: Brevard County falls out of small group of Florida school districts requiring four science courses for high school graduation

Until now, Brevard County was one of three elite Florida school districts (the others are Duval and Monroe) that required four science courses for high school graduation.

Now there are only two.

Florida Today reports that after suspending the four-science-course requirement for the graduating class of 2011 – the first class to which the requirement would have applied – and the class of 2012, the Brevard School Board gave up altogether and dropped the requirement permanently.  Students will still have to meet the state’s graduation requirement of three science courses (including biology and – soon – “chemistry or physics”).  But Brevard students will then have the choice of taking either a fourth science course or an additional social studies course.  The smart money is on most choosing the fourth social studies course.

The reason for the change is money.  From Florida Today:

Brevard Public Schools met the state class size requirement each year, in part, by paying teachers about $3,000 to teach an additional period. Using that model, the stricter graduation requirements would have cost an additional $100,000 in supplements, she said.

Elected officials said that not mandating a fourth year of science and social studies classes will give students more room in their schedules for classes that might interest them more. Elective classes also have more leniency than core academic classes in terms of size; electives can sometimes top 35 students.

“It’s going to give them flexibility, instead of mandating every step of the way,” School Board Member Michael Krupp said after the meeting. Board members voted on the change as part of their consent agenda.

Brevard requires 26 credits instead of the state’s 24 to earn a diploma.

Of course, Brevard County has been under even greater fiscal pressure than most Florida school districts with the termination of the space shuttle program.

Nevertheless, the Brevard situation is only the latest symptom of the erosion of Florida’s K-12 science program because of budget issues and shifting priorities (see here and here for others).

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