School & District Management

Dumping Senior Year to Save Money

By Catherine Gewertz — February 16, 2010 1 min read

A state senator from Utah is suggesting that his state save money by making the senior year of high school optional. Many states and districts have been searching for ways to save money during these lean financial times. One of the most frequently cited—though not widely embraced—suggestions is shortening the school calendar. But this is the first time I’ve heard of someone proposing to eliminate an entire year of school.

Not that the senior year hasn’t been the target of criticism for a long time. You can hardly spit without running into a high school senior who will tell you how it’s a waste of his time. (I acknowledge here that 17- and 18-year-olds grumble often about many things being a waste of their time. But sadly, in the case of senior year, all too often that complaint is actually legitimate.) Many adults have been advocating ways to make the senior year better, too.

But what happens if you make it optional? One of the many folks weighing in on Utah’s idea at CNN’s blog posits that making senior year optional simply turns the junior year into the senior year. (They’ve also got a video clip of an interview with the senator, Chris Buttars, and the state’s commissioner of higher education, William Sederburg. You can just imagine that Mr. Sederburg’s take on the senior year is, well, quite different from Sen. Buttars’.)

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.