kitchen table math, the sequel: Cutting Honors and AP Classes

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cutting Honors and AP Classes

Due to cost cutting in their school budget, a non-urban high school in our state is cutting 31 mostly honors and AP classes.

A comment from another high school considering the same problem was:

“We do a lot for special needs students, as we should. But one of things that were not doing is enough for our gifted and talented students."

Another comment was:

"Since the state doesn’t provide any funding for gifted student programs, each district has to find a way to get the job done."

They offer these kids nothing in K-8, and now they want to offer them nothing in high school.

Do you want to know what their solution is? On-line courses.

What bothers me the most is that they call these kids gifted and talented. I ran into this with a parent once. She called algebra in 8th grade the "high honors" course. I told her it was the course that most students should be taking. Now, apparently, kids who take honors courses are gifted and talented. The implication is that it would be nice to do something "special" for them, but it can't be done now. The schools aren't getting "extra" money from the state to do this. Once again, they blame it on money, not bad choices.

Lower expectations means lower accountability and less work for schools. It's self-fulfilling; you get what you expect.


Luke said...

The high school I attended moved my brilliant AP Psych teacher--who helped almost all his students pass the AP test with flying colors--to normal Psych so the non-honors students would get to experience his teaching... to be "fair."

I don't think anyone passed the AP test that year.

It's disgusting. And it's personal because my brother had to take AP Psych with a much less gifted teacher who didn't care nearly as much for the students.


Cranberry said...

I am not surprised. I think we live in the same state. I grew up in this state, and at one time the state was not opposed to scholarly achievement.

I notice that now, "honors" = "gifted and talented" = "extra frill we can't afford." Although, to be honest, there is also a strong preference for heterogeneous grouping. Our district has no honors classes in the humanities, and it's very proud of that fact. This is something to be proud of, because "it's where the students mix."

Has this district cutting honors courses invested in Technology and Whiteboards, by chance?

The private high schools in the area must be very happy.

SteveH said...

"Has this district cutting honors courses invested in Technology and Whiteboards, by chance?"

I don't know. The school is in the corner of the state and I don't follow what they do closely, but I did go to its web site and found this:

"Emphasis is placed on the development of meaningful life skills, attitudes, and beliefs that best allow him/her to fulfill his/her potential as a member of a democratic society in a complex world."

The word "academics" could not be found.

The article did mention our high school (trimming staff, but not courses ...yet), so I'm going to make a point of asking them whether my son can expect AP classes when he gets there.

Unfortunately, the private schools are $25,000+++ per year.

Catherine Johnson said...

You know ---- I asked our high school (or somebody - I've forgotten whom): AP courses cost nothing to offer. There's no licensing fee.

The only extra cost is the $80 fee for the test.

Catherine Johnson said...

At least, that's what I was told.

Catherine Johnson said...

Luke --- that's disgusting.

Catherine Johnson said...

My district shut down all forms of gifted instruction. Not that we had any to speak of, but we did have ability grouping in math starting in 3rd grade.

When they brought in Trailblazers they ended all grouping.

The parents of mathematically gifted kids got on them so intensely that they then hired a very expensive "math enrichment specialist" to enrich the kids.

We taxpayers got to pay for that.

Yes, indeed, I wish to pay more taxes for less eduction for mathematically gifted students.

Catherine Johnson said...

One of the things that most tickles me (not in a good way) is the chronic use of the word "enrichment" in an affluent suburban town.

The ultimate goal of virtually all efforts, it seems, is "enrichment."

That was bad enough back when a lot of parents were rich; now it's ridiculous.

If you want to enrich the kids, how about teaching them a possibly marketable skill.

Like long division.

Catherine Johnson said...

I just read your whole post.

If I take your meaning, I agree that the school is using the financial crisis as an excuse to get rid of ability grouping and rigorous courses.