Parents at a Los Angeles area school district spoke out at a Tuesday school board meeting against the administration’s decision to eliminate honors classes in the name of racial-equity because they didn’t enroll enough Black and Latino students.
Earlier this school year, the Culver City Unified School District (CCUSD) replaced honors classes at Culver City High School with a one-size-fits-all approach that officials said would give students of all races an equal education, the Wall Street Journal reported. Many parents attended the school board meeting to ask the CCUSD administration to reinstate honors classes, which they laid out in a two-page resolution.
“I have a child in the high school,” one mom told the school board. “It is too easy in his classroom. They say, ‘Mom, they say it’s equity, they say that’s the reason and therefore it’s okay.’ I want my child to be challenged.”
“We are immigrants,” she added. “My family are immigrants. We came to this country to have a better life, a better education, to get out of poverty … we want to be able to give them a better education … because this is why we chose Culver City.”
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Starting in the fall of 2022, freshmen and sophomores at CCUSD have only been offered one level of English, whereas before they could choose between a grade level class or opt into an honors class, which was available to everyone, the WSJ reported. Administrators argued that this keeps everyone on the same playing field, so students are able to enroll in advanced classes in their junior and senior years of high school.
A group of parents representing the Culver City Families for Education and Equity introduced the resolution at Tuesday’s meeting, arguing that a history of inequity requires a robust and varied array of learning opportunities, so students at all levels can get the support they need to achieve their highest potential.
“Our beloved local school district, Culver City Unified School District, is in crisis,” one parent told the school board during the meeting. “We have entrenched patterns of disparity amongst different student populations when it comes to academic performance and an alarming reduction of educational opportunities that are available to every student with no input from key stakeholders: parents, families and students.”
The group focused on more parent and student involvement in the decisions made regarding academics at the district level.
“Families of students in our district have been offered very little visibility and information on this issue leading to the education of their children and have not being afforded meaningful opportunities to voice their views on the sweeping changes made on access to honors classes for all students,” another parent said.
Other parents were critical of the district for implementing the “one-size-fits-all” approach that doesn’t address what they believe to be the real problem.
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“The district has not addressed the underlying issues of underrepresentation experienced by Black and Brown students in honors classes and has replaced previous honors English content with a one size fits all class that is not serving the interests of many students and in particular does not specifically address the need for additional support for underperforming students, while also ignoring the needs of high performing [students],” one parent said.
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“It’s not working and we’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater,” another parent said. “My daughter, who is a sophomore has said that it’s not working. She’s been in honors the whole way and as a sophomore now, she says she’s not challenged.”
“She’s now getting like an A +++ in her English class and she’s not being challenged,” she added. “She says the class is kind of a joke, so it’s not working.”
School districts in California and across the country have taken similar action to eliminate honors classes. In 2022, Patrick Henry High School (PHHS) in San Diego told parents it aimed to get rid of 11th-grade History and English honors courses, but in response to parent protests and negative community backlash, the school reversed its decision.
School districts that have gotten rid of honors classes believe that students who don’t take those advanced classes from a young age get behind their peers and get stuck at lower levels of academic advancement, which makes it harder to enroll in Advanced Placement (AP) classes later on.
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Black students make up 15 percent of high schoolers in the country, but consist of only 9 percent of students enrolled in at least one AP course and nearly 25 percent of students are Latino, but they only make up 21 percent of students enrolled in AP courses, according to a report from The Education Trust.