Florida students no longer need chemistry, physics or Algebra II to graduate from high school. Texas just scrapped its Algebra II requirement. And the Washington state board of education last month reversed its own resolution calling for a foreign language mandate, over concerns that it appeared too elitist.
A standards rebellion — or in the eyes of the opponents, the dumbing down of America — is sweeping red states and blue, promoted by both Republicans and Democrats. President Barack Obama has called for a rigorous college-prep curriculum for all students. States, however, are responding with defiance: They’re letting teens study welding instead of Spanish, take greenhouse management in place of physics and learn car repair instead of muddling over imaginary numbers.