By Mikayla Carter
The School Board’s solution to the increase in the number of ambitious students signing up for numerous AP classes is not to “offer more sections” of that course, but rather to crowd students into a single classroom.
As a student at Benicia High School who takes advantage of the educational opportunities provided, it is extremely disappointing to see the lack of cooperation between School Board and the parents, students, and staff. This includes in related topics of appropriate teacher compensation and safety at our schools not being addressed. In doing further investigation, I am confused on how the decision to cut course sections at Benicia High is in any way beneficial to the students. According to Center For Public Education, “as class size decreases achievement increases, and benefits begin to emerge as class size falls below 20 students.” Project STAR (also known as the Tennessee Study of Class Size) took over 11,000 students and placed them in classes of three sizes, 13-17, 22-25, and 25+. The results showed that students in the smallest class had an average of 8% higher in reading and 9% in mathematics, and the students of the smaller class size were more likely to succeed in college entrance exams. The research proved that classroom settings with 13-24 students are most favorable and create the best environment for learning, compared to those of students in classes above 25 without a teacher assistant.
Is the success of students not the Board’s number one priority?
AP American Studies is just one of the many classes negatively affected. 75+ students signed up for this class and only 2 sections are offered at the high school with over 30 students per class. This is beyond ridiculous.
I along with other students, parents, and staff am unsatisfied with the way school issues, that directly affect our ability to thrive, are addressed.
The BUSD school board has repeatedly let the community down, from denying appropriate teacher compensations, and dismissing safety concerns parents have for our schools. I would like to remind the Board how easy it is to fall to the lower levels of neighboring high schools and I fear if we continue on the current path we could end up there. There is not adequate resources provided and utilized to combat our dissatisfaction.
What must we do to see something different?
The School Board cannot keep avoiding direct questions with clichés. They need to stop putting the communities concerns aside and instead take it as an opportunity to involve us, taking into account what we want and need to give us an optimal setting for prosperity. We need more sections of high-demand AP classes to be offered.
If they cannot meet the academic needs of the students, they should at the very least explain why and encourage our creative community to come to a solution together. We want our needs to be taken into careful consideration and to feel and be heard. As an active, caring, and involved alliance of parents, students, and staff, we invite the School Board to join us.