End to honors classes is harmful, uneeded

Parker Sutherland

The proposed elimination of honors-level U.S. Studies courses violates the RBHS mantra of “freedom with responsibility.” Students deserve the freedom to choose a course that best accommodates their needs and often busy teenage schedules.
According to teachers backing the elimination proposal, honors-level courses have widened the achievement gap by separating students by ethnicity rather than ability, and an increased number of behavior problems and students with IEPs prevents teachers from adequately fulfilling the needs of their students.
The group believes eliminating honors-level courses would allow for a more even distribution of students with different socio-economic statuses, cutting down on behavioral issues and assisting teachers with classroom management.
But the proposal ignores the students’ voice. According to a survey of 180 students conducted by The Rock Oct. 24, 71 percent believed honors-level courses were a necessary supplement to both Advanced Placement and on-level courses. This demonstrates the need for classes that require critical thinking without the often burdensome workload of an  A.P. level course.
The absence of honors-level courses will have a detrimental effect on students who still wish to challenge themselves but carry busy schedules. Students will be forced to choose between an engaging curriculum or a manageable course load. Students who choose to take A.P. level courses rather than the on-level alternative may have to sacrifice extracurriculars or risk a penalty to their grade-point average.
Instead of attempting to narrow the achievement gap by eliminating honors-level courses, administrators should seek out alternative methods to solving the problem of the disparity between honors and on-level classes. Smaller on-level class sizes, or additional after-school tutoring and remedial programs could achieve the desired effect of narrowing the gap without damaging honors-level students.
RBHS clearly respects student opinions, as evidenced by the accomplishments of groups such as student coalition.
Students must take advantage of this opportunity and make sure their voices are heard as the policy change begins to be debated.
In the meantime, perhaps the school can adopt a new mantra when considering eliminating U.S. Studies honors-level courses — “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
By The Rock