Requirements not met

Jack Harris '22 writes about some of the problems that required classes bring up.

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The required classes system the district uses is incredibly flawed and forces students into classes that don’t benefit them and leads to a more negative high school experience.

In the ICCSD you are required to have a minimum of 309 credits to graduate high school. You get 220 of those credits from taking required classes and must take electives to fulfill the remaining 89. This means there are 44 trimesters of required classes and 18 trimesters worth of “required” electives. Out of the 84 potential slots you could take a class in, 62 of them must be filled.

 The main, and arguably most valid, complaint that students have is the required four trimesters of physical education. I don’t know why this is a required class when simply put, you learn absolutely nothing from taking this class. For many students, this is one of their most negative high school experiences. This has in part to do with locker rooms in which most of the negative comments students hear regarding race, gender, sexuality, immigration, and body type occur. Most people would be better off not having to deal with this sort of thing, but the district forces vulnerable students into harmful and hateful scenarios, all for what some students view to be the least valuable class they will ever take.

The district requires that students take english 9 and 10 and after that gives students some freedom by letting them pick the two other 3-trimester classes that they have to take. One of the best options is to go for the journalism route. The district claims to highly value student journalism and the schools having a history of award-winning student journalism. Contradicting the districts claims though is that the district will not recognize English credit for more than one journalism class. This can end up forcing some students to drop a journalism class that they love, and will further their writing/researching abilities, and take a class that they hate and as a result they won’t take anything away from. This is made more senseless by the fact that Language Arts is the only subject that requires 60 credits. It seems fair that you need 45 for science, math, and Social Studies, so why are we required to have another 15 for Language Arts to graduate?

The school should also offer more options for the science department. The courses available are all either the basic courses or slightly more in-depth versions of that course, such as biology and AP biology, chemistry and honors chemistry, and physics and AP physics. Two of the main classes though physics and chemistry are just math classes where the problems involve science. For students who are interested in more hands on and interactive sciences, you’re simply out of luck. The best option you have is AP biology, but most of that class is still studying cells and genetics. The bigger problem with AP biology is that it is mostly a course for high achieving students, excluding the average student who just wants to take a course that interests them.

The social studies department is home to some rather noticeable logical fallacies, the main one being economics. The school requires one trimester of economics, which doesn’t seem that bad until you think about how pointless the class is. People on Wall Street who spend every day studying and selling the market don’t fully understand how the market works and they sure as hell don’t know how to predict it. Enron ring any bells? So how can we possibly expect a bunch of uninterested teenagers, who have so much else to worry about, to understand it? Most students don’t have any use for it either, as they won’t do anything involved with the subject matter. Some students might want to learn this sort of thing, so clearly it should be made an elective.

West High  and the district as a whole have some problems as far as the classes that you are required to take. All of the districts problems have solutions though. For PE the problems are mostly something that come along with the class so the school should either make it an elective or give the students the option to not use the locker room or not change. For science the district should give students a class that lets them be more interactive with their environment instead of slideshows and the occasional use of a microscope. For social studies, why not have students take an economics class that they will use more, like personal finance. Lastly for english, either make it 45 credits like all the other or at the very least make journalism something that isn’t restricted. One idea that has been circling the web for the past few years is to make every class an elective. Most people would probably think that this is a bad idea. Maybe it is, but while not being a perfect system, it could be a better one.

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