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California High School Eliminates Honors Classes To Increase ‘Equity’

Graham Perdue
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A California high school controversially eliminated its honors English courses to promote “equity” within its classrooms, and parents are justifiably angry.

Culver City High School axed the offerings because they failed to enroll enough Black and Latino students. The district concluded that this failure translated into these same groups also being underrepresented in Advanced Placement classes, which weigh heavily for college admission.

By allowing the honors English course at Culver City, administrators reasoned that they created a “two-tiered” education system. Instead, chopping off the top of the English curriculum will “ensure students of all races receive an equal, rigorous education,” according to officials.

School officials looked to similar efforts in Santa Monica and San Diego for guidance. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School Board member Jon Kean declared that eliminating honors courses “is not a social experiment,” but rather “a sound pedagogical approach to education.”

Many parents, however, strongly disagree.

Joanna Schaenman told the Wall Street Journal that “we really feel equity means offering opportunities to students of diverse backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study.”

Another parent told the outlet that his experience in another country made him wary of the move. Pedro Frigola said, “I was born in Cuba, and it doesn’t sound good when people are trying to achieve equal outcomes for everyone.”

Frigola’s daughter reported that the honors curriculum allowed students to choose research paper topics and charged them with finding their own sources.

In the current class, however, the teacher gathers all source material and assigns writing topics to students.

Culver City is not alone in slashing opportunities for ambitious students to accelerate their learning. At Patrick Henry High School in San Diego last year, honors classes were to be similarly eliminated as a sacrifice to the gods of equity.

Only, concerned parents erupted over the decision, and dozens of students launched a lunchtime protest and expressed their frustration on social media. 

Principal Michelle Irwin “paused” the slashing of the program.

No one wins when education is dumbed down for the misguided goal of giving everyone an equal outcome. Students deserve to be challenged, and those who want to push harder to succeed should not have that opportunity stripped away from them in the pursuit of “equity.”