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November 9, 2005

West’s Core Program: Enrichment, or Deprivation?

This anonymous entry is from a current 9th grader at West who shares their thoughts about the proposed changes in 10th grade English as well as lets us know how the current 9th grade core is experienced by students.

I am writing from the viewpoint of a gifted and talented 9th grader at West High who is stuck in the core program of English and History 9. “Stuck” is the perfect word for my situation. I am stuck in classes where brilliance is not only limited, but discouraged. I have been reprimanded by teachers for exceeding their expectations. Does West want to be a school known for restricting its gifted students?

I have been a student in the core program for two months, and I refuse to be a part of it for two years. In these classes, learning plateaus with an “A”. There should be levels of education beyond an easy A, which is all the core programs have to offer me or my classmates. Following a rigid schedule of note-taking, book-reading, and discussions which fail to be in-depth or even comprehensive, English 9 is a class in which gifted students’ intelligence recedes, instead of grows. There is frequent homework, but it is busy work which only requires time, not brain power. I have not once felt challenged in one of my core classes, and I was looking forward to honors courses sophomore year, where I could thrive in a challenging environment among other gifted students. Instead I was informed that “English 10” would be invoked in West’s new core program. I fail to see the benefits of this. This means another year of all of West’s gifted and talented students being stuck in classes where they do not learn, where they do not grow, and where they do not excel. I urge everyone who cares about the freshman class of West, please protest the creation of English 10. All current freshmen will suffer because of this. I write not only to represent the gifted students of West trapped in English 9, but students of all intelligence. I have not met one person who enjoys English 9, and those who are challenged by it are not challenged by an invigorating curriculum or challenging, thought-provoking discussions, but instead by unclear directions or annoying busy work. There should be an alternative to the core program offered, whether it is a class students must test into or simply abandoning the idea of the 10th grade core program, a decision which I am confident to say most freshman at West would vote for. The most recent information I obtained about the English core program was that there would be one honors class offered. I was not impressed by “assets” of this class, which seemed not to offer anything extra. Two days a week, half of the student’s lunches would be dedicated to working with the teacher, and more homework would be given to the students despite the similar curriculum. This seems like punishment to the honors students, and would discourage students from wanting to be in this class. I also doubt the effectiveness of giving more work, because the work would most likely be busy work similar to the homework in English 9. I cannot envision a class at west in which the homework given was challenging and thought-provoking. I believe English 10 honors would only be an English 10 class with more homework. I see no benefits of invoking the English core program at West.
Posted by Jeff Henriques at November 9, 2005 8:59 AM
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