Equity or Inequality? Honors Classes being Dropped in Schools

Honors and gifted classes have long been a staple of American education for fast learners. These courses, which typically culminate in Advanced Placement (AP) classes, offer college credit and are highly sought after by students and parents alike. However, some school districts are removing these accelerated courses to promote more equity for Black and Latino students.

Recently, Culver City High School in California received criticism from parents calling for their children’s honors English classes to be reinstated. The school had removed the advanced option after realizing that the proportion of minority students enrolled in the course was not correct. According to the Wall Street Journal on February 17, Latino students only made up 13% of the AP English classes at Culver City High School, while they represented 37% of the student body. Asian students, on the other hand, comprised 34% of the class while only accounting for 10% of overall student enrollment. Black students had the closest numbers, with 14% of the advanced class enrollment and 15% of the student body.

The district’s decision to eliminate honors classes is to create a more equitable education system by mixing students of different abilities. The goal is to ensure that each student has an equal opportunity to receive a high-quality education. However, opponents of the decision argue that it deprives students who want additional chances to learn and study at an advanced pace of valuable opportunities.

Culver City Unified School District Superintendent Quoc Tran told the WSJ that parents do not want their children’s education “experimented with for the sake of social justice.” He contrasts that with teachers’ frustration when “Black and brown kids were not there” in the advanced classes.

The debate over eliminating honors classes is not limited to Culver City High School. Similar discussions are taking place in other cities in California and Rhode Island and Wisconsin, where school boards believe that advanced classes create inequality in schools.

However, some argue that eliminating advanced classes is not the solution. According to experts, schools should instead focus on addressing the root causes of inequality by investing in early education programs and providing equal opportunities for all students.