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Bush wants majors, minors to be used in high schools

Gov. Jeb Bush and Republican legislative leaders on Tuesday unveiled a middle and high school reform plan that closely follows recommendations made by the state's High School Task Force last week. It includes a proposal for high school students to focus on major and minor subjects as college students do.

"The main purpose of the major and minor recommendation is to keep students interested and motivate them to do well in high school so they're not bored to tears," Bush said. Students would be required to take four years of English or language arts and four years of math instead of only three of each to graduate.

They could take extra courses to get majors and minors in subjects such as humanities, English, communications, math, science, history, social studies, the arts, foreign language or a career specialization.

Other parts of the plan include special classes to help struggling students, special diplomas for students who take honors or other demanding classes, and vocational training to qualify students for jobs if they don't go to college.

Bush calls it the A-Plus-Plus plan. His A-Plus program in 1999 focused on testing and grading students and schools. It included rewards and punishments for schools based largely on how well their students do on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or FCAT.

Democrats suggested the new plan is an acknowledgment that schools must do more than teach students how to pass tests.

"My whole question is, "What does it do?' " said Senate Democratic Leader Les Miller of Tampa. "One thing we can be happy about is nothing is tied to the FCAT."

Bush is seeking $20-million for the plan, including money to develop career academies and remedial classes as well as math and science research.

The Senate Education Committee introduced a bill including many of the recommendations Tuesday, though not the major-minor requirement. Committee Chairwoman Evelyn Lynn, R-Ormond Beach, said it could be amended onto the bill.