A California High School Student’s Letter on Rigor

Jerry Pournelle:

This is an update on the inner workings of the California school system. Unfortunately, not much has changed from last year, but I found out more regarding the educational bureaucracy and about various administrative policies that seem to cause more harm than good.
Overall, the classes are better, in that they are less dumbed-down than they were last year. This is partly because most of my classes were AP or Honors classes, and would probably apply to schools across the country. If you know someone whose child is bored, I would recommend that they take AP or Honors classes next year. The downside is an increased homework load, but for many students (including myself), the homework is worth having three weeks after AP testing in which to relax.
Another reason for the increased rigor of the classes, at least at my school, is the number of dropouts. Many of those students who think school is a waste of time leave somewhere in their sophomore year, and by junior year, the average interest of the students has been pushed up. Interestingly, the counselors at my school lie about the number of dropouts, and I know they are lying because a) several teachers agree that the number was definitely more than 3 last year, b) I speak Spanish and have heard immigrants talking to each other about friends who have dropped, and c) the freshman class is almost a thousand each year, while the graduating class is always close to 500 students. Believe me, those kids aren’t all transferring to other schools.

Interesting reading, in light of this and Alan Borsuk’s excellent deep look at Milwaukee’s high schools