This afternoon, I received an outraged phone call from my sister. “A bunch of obnoxious and pushy parents are demanding West High offer more AP classes. They say West needs to improve talented and gifted classes. Can you believe it? I knew this would happen someday.” Although my sister’s characterization of these parents’ complaints was less than completely accurate, her impressions and outrage will be shared with many members of my high school’s community. This makes me both frustrated and concerned for my former school.
Madison West High School prides itself on its diversity, fine arts programs, and impressive academic achievements, and West prepared most of my classmates well for our college careers. The preparation, however, did not involve many AP classes. Some of my classmates took AP exams for subjects in which they had not had official AP classes, and they often scored well. But many of us took only an AP language exam or maybe an AP calculus test. Historically, West’s teachers have resisted forgoing their own curricula in favor of those dictated by the College Board. And with instructional minutes treated like a precious commodity, I can see why many teachers don’t want to sacrifice the six weeks of school after the AP exams to the severe senioritis that overcame my classmates and myself in the few AP classes I did take. I have great respect for my teachers’ anti-AP position, and I think West is a better school for it. So whether or not these “obnoxious and pushy parents” are demanding AP classes for their gifted children, I share my sister’s skepticism of changing West’s curriculum to fit with that of the College Board.