Honors Classes Getting Dropped In Schools In The Name Of Equity

(PresidentialDaily.org) – School districts from around the country are working hard to promote equity in education, and that’s certainly a good thing.

But, recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that many districts are trying to increase their equity in unique ways – by getting rid of honors classes.

The WSJ reported that California’s Culver City High School, for instance, has completely gotten rid of all honors classes, saying that the reason for doing so was that there weren’t enough Latino and black students enrolling in them.

Two other school districts in California – Patrick Henry High School, and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District – have made similar moves.

In announcing the upcoming changes, Jon Kean, one of the school board members of the Santa Monica-Malibu school district, said:

“This is not a social experiment. This is a sound pedagogical approach to education.”

According to the district, students who decide not to take honors courses when they’re first given the opportunity to do so ultimately believe they won’t ever be able to enroll in one of the classes. Typically speaking, Latino and black students enroll in honors-level courses at a much lower rate than white students in the district, the WSJ reported.

School board members in Culver City said that students who weren’t in the district’s honors classes felt as though they were less successful, were less motivated and were “unable to break out of the molds that they established when they were 11.”

It was more a case of being “a moral imperative” for the teachers at the Santa Monica-Malibu district when honors classes in English were ultimately eliminated, as they wanted to ensure there was equity for minority students in the district.

Officials with the district told the WSJ that since the classes were eliminated, it “has increased access and provided excellent educational experiences for all of our students.”

While the other districts stuck to their guns and removed the honors courses, Patrick Henry High School reinstated honors-level courses in U.S. history and American literature after members of the community voiced their concerns about eliminating them.

It’s not just districts in ultra-liberal California that are making these moves, though. In Wisconsin, the Madison School Board ultimately decided to keep honors-level classes as part of their course offerings, but they also allowed all freshmen students to earn some honors credits in a few courses that weren’t accelerated.

In Rhode Island, another school removed all honors-level classes in a similar way, yet allowed students to still earn honors credits as part of classes that weren’t accelerated.

Not all parents agree with the decisions that the districts are making. One parent of a Culver City student, Joanna Schaenman, commented to the WSJ:

“We really feel equity means offering opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study.”

That seems to make much more sense than what these school districts are essentially doing – punishing students in advanced classes in the name of “equity.”