I have always held the stance that high school students should take full loads while in school. Why not? It is the last time students will have access to free education. I did it. In fact, during my senior year in high school, I dropped a teachers aid position, which involved just sitting around most days, to take an academic class because it sounded interesting and I would rather learn something then just sit there.
Since my district began a school-to-work program that gave students units for holding a job and attending a classroom meeting once a month, I have gradually accepted this as a legitimate reason to only have five classes. Which, incidentally, wouldn’t have affected my desire to take six classes when I was in high school – I worked 20 hours a week for almost all of my 11th and 12th grade years. As you might expect, I am very bothered by those seniors who are able to fulfill their four-year goal of taking only four classes.
So why the fuss today? Well, apparently, to prove a point that the district is cash strapped (which it isn’t – it is budgeting to have $4-5 more in its reserve then is mandated by the state) and can’t pay teachers the COLA given to them by the state, they have said that the junior and senior average for enrolled periods needs to be 5.25. That means that only one of four students can take six classes. We have moved into the business of denying students educational opportunities. This process has already meant cutting the web design class, the programming class, AP Art History, the sociology/current events class, and who knows how many sections of art, drama, choir, and foreign language. At time we should be expanding technology use, we are not only not letting it age, we are cutting handful of programs that will be helpful to students wish to pursue a career in that area. Plus “regular” classes will be bigger then normal. My world history classes this year are already 37-39 students, how much bigger can we get?
Now, I’m fired up about the teacher-district issues, but this is too much. My disillusionment with this district and public education as a whole has made me think harder about a career change. Or at least a change of venue, away from the district that I graduated from and currently live within. All I want to is teach in an environment where learning is primary focus, where the teachers and district look forward – not backwards.
The superintendent has directly put the students in the middle. I hope the parents of this community say enough is enough. Regardless of political affiliation, religious beliefs, or value of education, public schools are being attacked not only in my district, about across the state of California. While many will argue that the education system as a whole needs some retooling, this is not the way to do it.