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Numerous honors, AP classes cut over equity concerns at San Diego's largest high school. Angry parents say woke move isn't helping anybody.

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Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

The largest high school in San Diego has cut a number of its honors and advanced placement classes in the name of equity and ridding the stigma students endure if they're in regular classes, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

But parents angry over the woke move say it's not helping any of the students at Patrick Henry High School.

What are the details?

Among the axed courses are advanced English, advanced history, and advanced biology, the paper said, citing the school's course listings.

What's more, principal Michelle Irwin has been giving some AP and honors classes the boot without parents' knowledge or input, the Union-Tribune added.

Irwin made the cuts for equity reasons, the paper said, citing an email she wrote to parents, adding that she also wanted to remove the stigma from non-honors courses and eliminate racial disparities in honors enrollment.

However, a number of parents aren't having it — particularly because such course cuts may hurt their kids' chances of getting into preferred colleges, as honors courses boost grade point averages with weighted credits and colleges consider how many advanced courses students have taken, the Union-Tribune added.

Pamela Broudy told the paper she'd enroll her daughter at a private school if the advanced classes aren't restored, noting her child is "going to be bored to tears" without them.

Lauren Hotz, a parent of two sophomores, added to the Union-Tribune that "unilateral decisions to eliminate these classes unfairly disadvantage the students at Patrick Henry because their competition around the nation, not just in California, is having these classes."

Not all the advanced classes are gone

The paper said honors and advanced math and science classes are still being offered at Patrick Henry, as well as more than 20 AP classes and several dual-enrollment community college classes, all of which offer weighted GPA credit.

But the Union-Tribune said parents argue it's still crucial to offer a range of honors courses as they provide less-overwhelming alternatives to AP classes while still giving weighted GPA credit. The paper added that honors courses also provide stepping stones that prepare students for the rigors of AP and college classes.

What did the school district have to say?

San Diego Unified School Board Trustee Richard Barrera told the Union-Tribune that the district isn't taking anything away from students: "We believe in expanding access to opportunities for all of our students, and when we expand access ... that doesn't mean that we’re taking anything away from students who have already had access to those opportunities. I understand parents are worried about that, and when they hear we’re making a change from ... decades of existing stratification, and if your students are part of the higher stratification ... of course you're gonna be concerned about that. But that's not what we’re doing."

Racial disparities

Irwin recently said white and Vietnamese students have accounted for a disproportionately higher percentage of enrollment in Honors American Literature and Honors U.S. History classes while a lower number of Latino students were in them, the paper said.

“A lot of times it happens ... because of the implicit or explicit biases of the adults who are making decisions about either who to enroll in these courses or who to encourage to enroll in these courses,” Allison Socol — assistant director of P-12 policy at Education Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on education equity — told the Union-Tribune.

District officials added to the paper that they're avoiding labels such as "honors" and "advanced" that could exclude students of color.

To that end, the district has been attempting to fit more students into the same classes rather than separating them, the Union-Tribune said. While the district said it expects all teachers educators to differentiate their methods to serve all students' needs within the same class, some parents told the paper that's unrealistic.

"If you put everybody in the same class, your distribution of needs of the students is going to be wider, and one teacher is going to have to address those needs — which they can't," Hotz noted to the paper.

Instead parents are suggesting expanding access to tools that help students accelerate learning, the Union-Tribune said, adding that Education Trust recommends expanding eligibility for advanced courses.

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