Students have been over using and abusing opportunities
Shorewood has always prided itself on being a district of high-achieving students who strive to take the most difficult classes available to them. Some especially gifted students “max-out” the classes they can take at the high school, and must take a class at a nearby college to graduate or fulfill a college requirement, through a program called Youth Options.
The Youth Options system served its purpose when only a few students a year needed to take classes outside of the high school, mostly math classes. As a part of Youth Options, the district must cover the cost of students’ classes, but the cost to the district used to be low because so few students were taking college classes.
Today, however, because of societal pressure and encouragement from guidance counsellors, more and more students are taking Youth Options classes at younger ages and in a wider variety of subjects. This has put an enormous financial strain on the district and forced administrators to consider misguided solutions.
Many parents have expressed concern over what they call “Shorewood Lore” – that in order to get into a good college, students must take a Youth Options class and show they are “advanced.” This has driven students to take courses at UWM in areas like psychology, Arabic and sign language, simply because it looks good on a transcript and because they can.
This wild fervor to take “advanced” classes has put an unneeded strain on the district. Youth Options was originally meant for students advanced in math, and occasionally in a language like Spanish or French, whose curriculum is already well-established on the high school level. Students need to realize, and Shorewood needs to stress, that students should not take Youth Options classes just because they can. Youth Options should be a privilege, not a right, and something that is reserved for the few students who are truly gifted in certain areas and who have truly maxed out the classes Shorewood has to offer. Just because you can take a sign language class because Shorewood technically does not offer it in high school does not mean you should. If you’re interested in language, take French or Spanish.
The school board also should work to limit the number of Youth Options classes they approve. Last year, I applied for a Youth Options creative writing class, on the basis that I had already taken Shorewood’s one creative writing class, and I got in. I shouldn’t have. If I was interested in English, why not take AP English, or another of the myriad of English classes Shorewood offers. Another strictly creative writing class can wait until college.
This undue strain on the district has caused the school board to consider solutions fed by misinformation and parental outcry. In the coming years, the district is considering teaching AP calculus BC to add another level of math after AP calculus AB. This would allow students who are advanced one year in math to take calculus BC as a senior, and cut drastically the number of kids taking Youth Options classes.
This is fine except for one fact: contrary to what its name implies, AP calculus BC is not a direct “next step” after calculus AB. The premise of AP calculus BC is that is teaches the same material as calculus AB, but at a faster rate, with more time at the end of the course to add a little extra information.
The only true “next step” after taking AP Calculus AB is taking MATH-232: Calculus and Analytic Geometry at the colligate level. If Shorewood really wants a solution, it should consider hiring a part-time professor to teach MATH-232 to a small group of students one hour a day.
Last year, the district attempted to implement AP calculus BC in the form of an online class. The district informed the students who had applied to take Youth Options math that there was another class available: online AP Calculus BC. The backlash from parents and students was enormous, so much so that the district cancelled their deferments and allowed students to take Youth Options math classes. From this evidence, it is clear that AP Calculus BC is not a viable solution to Shorewood’s Youth Options issue.
The Youth Options program today is being abused by students who feel pressured to take advanced classes, and because of this the district is suffering financially. The Youth Options program is mandated by law, but the district and the student body need to seriously reconsider how the program is being used, and what measures should be taken to remedy it.
by Dylan Larson-Harsch