Last week Pomona College president David Oxtoby tried to educate me in this column about what he sees as the flaws of the Advanced Placement program, the college-level courses and tests given in high school of which I am American journalism’s biggest supporter. This column will look at AP from the perspective of a well-informed parent in Anne Arundel County, Md., who thinks the program has fallen prey to the worst aspects of the movement to make public schools accountable through regular testing.
I was pretty aggressive with Oxtoby, since I know him well and figure he is used to being disrespected by self-important reporters. In the discussion below, I am much more polite to Anne E. Levin Garrison, since she is under no obligation to talk to me and has a very personal perspective that even a know-it-all like me has to respect. Part of this column’s role as asource of information on AP, International Baccalaureate and other efforts to improve our high schools is my insistence that it be the most important forum for criticism of AP and IB. So I am thankful to both Oxtoby and Garrison for helping me fulfill that obligation and hope other critics will email me when they have something to say.