In the Name of ‘Equity,’ California Schools Cut Honors Classes

The issue: As Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives become more widespread in education, some school districts, particularly in California, are doing away with honors classes for freshmen and sophomores, with the reasoning that the courses are not enrolling enough black and Latino students.

The criticism: Parents and students in these school districts argue that taking away the honors classes will not do much to level the playing field but rather degrade courses for students who need more challenging material. Plus, removing honors classes takes away the ability of students to increase their GPA or to note their honors enrollment on resumes or college applications. “I was born in Cuba,” one parent said. “It doesn’t sound good when people are trying to achieve equal outcomes for everyone.”

Response from the school districts: In Santa Monica, progressive high school English teachers believe they have “a moral imperative” to cut honors classes from the curriculum because they are “perpetuating inequality”. A superintendent from Culver City said, “It was very jarring when teachers looked at their AP enrollment and realized black and brown kids were not there.”

Why it matters: DEI initiatives are spreading across schools and workplaces across the country, and many approaches to increase “equity” are actually taking away opportunities for learning and growth, leaving everyone equally worse off. When it comes to education, it appears students, teachers, and staff differ over the effectiveness and relevance of this approach.

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