Controversy has erupted in several school districts across the United States over the decision to eliminate honors classes, purportedly to increase equity. The Wall Street Journal reported that school districts in California, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin had changed their honors programs to address disparities in student enrollment.
Culver City High School in California made headlines when it axed honors classes because they failed to enroll enough Black and Latino students. The school district believed that removing the honors classes could create more equity in the school system. But some parents disagreed with the move and argued that it would lead to fewer opportunities for advanced education and study.
CULVER CITY, Calif.—A group of parents stepped up to push back against a racial-equity initiative. The high school, they argued, should reinstate honors English classes that were eliminated because they didn’t enroll enough Black and Latino students.https://t.co/eIKBAHfxN2
— ⚔️Viking Mom⚔️ (@ncvikingmom) February 18, 2023
Similarly, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and Patrick Henry High School in California eliminated their honors classes to increase equity. At Santa Monica-Malibu, honors English classes were removed because teachers felt they had a “moral imperative” to do so to ensure equity for minority students. However, Patrick Henry High School reinstated its honors American literature and U.S. history classes after community members spoke out against their removal.
The Madison School Board in Wisconsin also changed its honors program by allowing freshmen to earn honors credits in courses that were not accelerated. A Rhode Island school eliminated honors classes but allowed students to earn honor credits on their transcripts within non-accelerated classes.
The rationale behind these changes is that honors classes lead to a “prejudicial” system that discourages Black and Latino students from opting for Advanced Placement (AP) classes in their junior and senior years. These AP classes can give students a leg up in the college admissions process. The school districts argue that eliminating honors classes will help to create more equity in the system and give all students a chance to succeed.
Many parents and students strongly disagree with the move in the name of “equity,” arguing that eliminating honors classes will directly lead to fewer opportunities for every student. Instead, schools should offer opportunities to students of all backgrounds, not taking away opportunities for advanced education and study for everyone of all races and backgrounds.