I have noted stories of high schools dropping honors and AP classes in the name of so-called ‘equity’ like this lately, with a great deal of sadness and sympathy for those kids who would have benefited most from more challenging classes. The intelligent, motivated and intellectually-gifted students are bored beyond all reason by the standard classes – I know that I certainly was, and my high school days were from 1969-1972 in a largely white blue-collar working-class to no-class suburb of Los Angeles. This was when California public schools were still pretty good, and students were ‘tracked’ by abilities as well as interest in higher learning. I’d estimate that only thirty or forty out of a graduating class of 600 or so were tracked towards the Honors/AE classes; Sunland-Tujunga was, as I said before, a blue-collar, working-class community, with a small sprinkling of middle-class. My own mother was about as pushy a tiger-mom as there was, and her collegiate ambitions for us didn’t go much beyond the state university system, never mind any of the west coast Ivies. An east-coast Ivy wasn’t even in the same universe.
When, for some reason, I wasn’t assigned to one of the AE (academically-enriched) classes for the eventually-college bound, and wound up in a regular class, I was frustrated, impatient and as noted – bored beyond belief at writing down the answers at the end of the rote chapter and turning it in to an equally bored teacher. A fair percentage of my classmates in regular classes were not all that invested in school, or wanted to be there at all – they were there because they were under the age of 18 and the law said that they had to be. Once the regular run of students had learned to read at something close to grade level, to do basic math, and picked up shop skills and maybe a little science – I’ve always believed most other students at Verdugo Hills HS would have been happier going out and getting a job, or at worst, hang out on street corners with fellow underachievers. Left to themselves, I suspect most teenagers still feel that way.
With an Honors or AE class, one didn’t have to prove to the teacher beyond all doubt that you weren’t stupid; we had lively class discussions, special projects and independent research papers, and the handful of teachers taking those classes were good teachers themselves, and generally well-liked. We were being challenged with more difficult materiel, asked to think, research, write, tackle advanced material, stretch the boundaries … and at no time was it ever suggested to anyone that such classes were somehow unfair to regular students because they weren’t inclined towards them. Or that … horrors, they just weren’t bright enough.
So now, in pursuit of equal outcomes, every student must be bored out of their respective skulls; the bright, intellectually-engaged kids must have every shred of intellectual achievement and interest crushed ruthlessly, lest the disinterested underachievers somehow feel bad about themselves. This is a horrific waste of potential; talent at anything is not evenly distributed, genius is a rare fish indeed. Squashing it in the name of so-called equity is as wasteful and brutal of human potential as those weights, masks and thought-disrupting radio earpieces enforced by the Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers in Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian short tale.
Discuss as you wish.