by Makayla Clauson
As budget cuts hit the nation’s schools, tough decisions must be made. The state of California education budget is taking a 10% cut, about $6.5 billion. If the federal government came through and gave $1 trillion to state and local governments, like Gov. Newsom proposed, California wouldn’t have to reduce spending on education. But that is unlikely to happen. With less money schools have to make difficult decisions about what programs to cut.
At Alhambra High School, the district has made the decision to take away advanced math. For many years, Advanced Placement (or AP) Calculus AB and BC have been staples of the high school’s math department. These two courses represent two levels of Calculus that are taken by gifted math students their junior and senior years. But now, the district is looking to take away these integral classes from its offerings. This decision to cut advanced level math at the school will limit many juniors’ and seniors’ ability to pursue a STEM major at a four-year university. At the nation’s top collegiate STEM programs, it is a prerequisite class to make your application competitive.
Compared to other AP classes offered around the country, the AP Calculus test has one of the highest enrollments year after year. In 2019, out of 47 AP test options, AP Calculus AB was the seventh most enrolled in by students while AP Calculus BC was the15th out of 47. According to the 2019 course catalog, Alhambra offers eight other AP classes with less student enrollment than AP Calc AB. AP Calc AB is clearly one of the fundamental AP classes around the nation. As of 2013, 19.3% of all high school completers were enrolled in Calculus or higher. That is 1 out of ever 5 students to complete high school.
Because of the growing percentage of American high schoolers taking Calculus, almost every high school in the surrounding area provides these classes to their students. Acalanes Unified School District, Liberty Union School District, Dougherty Valley, College Park High School, and many others still offer either AP Calc AB or higher. This disparity leaves students of Alhambra High School who are looking to attain a higher education at a disadvantage to the surrounding competition.
This choice by the district may also have lasting impacts on the students of Alhambra High School — altering their higher education plans and showing them that they shouldn’t strive to excel in math beyond educational standards. According to Dr. Bridget Baird, who has a Ph. D. in Math from the University of Buffalo believes, “This is a bad decision that it could affect where you go to college and lots of career choices and possible career choices.” She goes on to say, “It won’t be impossible for students to catch up but definitely puts them at a disadvantage. And that includes jobs in science, tech and math.” As a community we would never want to hold back students from reaching their full potential, and this situation should be treated no different.
It may be unrealistic to believe that a single article could bring back both classes, but I see no reason why we can’t have a compromise in which the school offers a combo AP Calculus class. The district has explicitly said “no” to this idea despite the fact that a 10- year veteran Calculus teacher has offered to take on the challenge. This is the best option to allow the students at Alhambra High School at both math levels to continue their math education and aspiration for a STEM degree while not falling behind students from neighboring high schools.
If you want to help, send the attached email to the school district; by doing this you will show that the community has the back of all students in the district.
Copy and paste the below text and email MUSD Superintendent CJ Cammack firstname.lastname@example.org
To whom it may concern,
I believe it is within the district’s best interest to preserve the courses Calculus AB and BC at Alhambra High School. Higher level math is an opportunity too important for Martinez students to not have access to, and it should be prioritized by the school district as highly as it is by students. Please consider the alternative of combining the two classes rather than not providing either at all.